Role of Pakistan Navy in development of Balochistan

Ms. Maliha Zeba Khan

Baluchistan is the largest province of Pakistan as it makes 43.6% of land mass of the country. It is the region which is rich in natural resources ranging from the minerals, oil, and natural gas, to the maritime resources. The socio-economic progress of Baluchistan has remarkably been slow since ages as the region had been facing discriminatory behaviour due to number of reasons. Despite the fact that Baluchistan had immense potential of socio-economic growth as well as unimaginable resources on land and maritime sectors, it could not reach at par with the rest of country and yet has been one of the most under-developed areas of Pakistan.

Since beginning of the new millennium, Baluchistan has emerged as the region which is an epicenter of geo-politics due to its strategic significance and being situated on cross-roads not only for Pakistan but for the whole Asian continent. The importance of this region has been multiplied since the initiation of multiple projects of economic cooperation and regional integration, particularly the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). As Baluchistan has been low on development index; therefore, Baluchistan is needed to be improved strategically and to make it a valuable part of the national mainstream. For this purpose, it is required to enhance the gains of the individuals too as well through comprehensive policies and long-term, long-range strategies. The individual gains are important because such gains increase positivity in general, and bring improvement in socio-economic conditions of the people.

Strategically, the approach to deal with the Baluchistan issue should not be uni-dimensional rather multi-pronged strategy will be more effective. To be specific, investing into basic education, health, equitable provision of social services like water, electricity, gas, infrastructure is fundamental pre-requisite to create conducive environment to positivity and creativity. Similarly the vocational training is important to make people self-sufficient and even they can go for entrepreneurship. Such specializations will allow the people of Baluchistan to choose for their route of development and will surely increase the opportunities as well as positive competitiveness. However, it should not be a sole responsibility of the government to play role in the development of the human resource of Baluchistan as there are numerous stakeholders at domestic as well as the international level which could be used effectively.

For international stakeholders, the specific approach of identifying the medium and long-term, but long-range objectives should be adopted, and inculcate them into effective foreign policy. At the domestic level, the executive organizations and agencies of the state like federal and provincial governments, different ministries and their departments, military and para-military forces, and law-enforcement agencies should play their role to deal with the challenges emerging in Baluchistan. One such stakeholder in Baluchistan is Pakistan Navy which is humbly serving the people of Baluchistan, and enabling them to improve their socio-economic conditions.

Health and education are the areas which provide essential prerequisite to establish human capital and strategic human resource development. Baluchistan adjoins with the Arabian Sea at its south, and along with the coastline, Pakistan Navy (PN) has its facilities and bases to perform its duty of defending the maritime boundaries of Pakistan. Pakistan Navy profoundly extends its efforts to improve the lives of the people of Baluchistan, particularly those who are under-privileged. It has established schools, colleges, hospitals, and other basic health facilities for the native population too. A valuable contribution to the socio-economic development of Baluchistan by Pakistan Navy is PNS-DARMAN JAH at Ormara, a hospital which is providing free-of-cost medical treatment including consultancy, investigations, surgeries, and medication to the people of that area and its surroundings. The word Darmanjah has a meaningful link with the hospital, as it means the place where the cure can be found, and it acts purely like that as it provides all medical facilities at one place even for the civilian population without any discrimination.

Pakistan Navy has also established Sickbays which are small medical setups stretched along the coastline at Gwadar, Jiwani, and Pasni to provide basic medical treatment to the people of surrounding areas. Another worth-mentioning contribution by Pakistan Navy is providing opportunities to the local females to get professional nursing care training at PNS-SHIFA, Karachi and then to appoint them in their areas to perform their duties. It has been immense contribution to the society of Baluchistan where the prenatal and postnatal care and medical treatment by the male staff had been a taboo. Therefore the recruitment and training of the Baluch females has surfaced as a big change in the closed tribal society. Now it has become rather possible for the women to get medical treatments for their issues. Similarly Pakistan Navy systematically arranges the medical camps in different areas of Baluchistan like Kundmalir, Pasni, Gwadar, Jiwani, and Turbat to extend opportunity to the people who are unable to reach to the medical centers by themselves due to any reason. Such medical camps do play role in spreading awareness about basic hygiene, maternal and fetal care, immunization, public health, and other diseases or issues. The school visits are also arranged to provide basic medical checkups as well as awareness to the students as part of routine.

Education is another neglected aspect of the people of Baluchistan. Pakistan Navy has established Bahria Model Schools and Colleges at Turbat, Ormara, Jiwani, and Gwadar which are playing their role in providing quality college education. These schools have opened their doors to the common people of those areas at greatly subsidized rates. The organization is patronizing the government schools in Ormara and assisting them wherever they would require. The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) sponsor a child scheme exists from the local populace for free education to deserving students of the coastal areas of Baluchistan. Pakistan Navy provides specific quota for the Baluch students at Bahria model Schools at Karachi, different campuses of Bahria University, and Cadet College Petaro. Pakistan Navy has established a cadet college at Ormara which is providing education to students hailing from Baluchistan, as well as further opportunities to join the Navy after completion their studies at the Cadet College. There are further projects nearing completion like establishment of the Marine Sciences Department by Bahria University with collaboration of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) which will provide potential opportunities for tapping the least tapped maritime resources of that area. Another substantial contribution for the strategic human resource development of the people of Baluchistan by Pakistan Navy is extending equitable employment opportunities through relaxing the age, qualification, and health standards of the organization and recruiting the local youth in Pakistan Navy.

Such initiatives provide the people of Baluchistan with credible opportunities to improve their life styles and socio-economic conditions. The economic empowerment gives encouragement to break the shackles of traditional and closed approaches, poverty, and diffidence as well as it will bring the sense of responsibility and conformity to the homeland Pakistan. Continuity of such affirmative approach is the only way through which people will start to think positively and national harmony can be achieved. Indeed Pakistan Navy is investing not only into Baluchistan but the future of secure, stable, and prosperous Pakistan through providing such opportunities to the local populace of Baluchistan regardless of the race, religion, gender, caste or any other worldly bounds which eventually will enhance the strategic human resource profile of Pakistan.