Almost all mainstream political parties in the province have complimented Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly, Mohammad Aslam Bhootani, for taking a firm and principled stance against the alleged sale of 70,000 acre land to Arab sheiks in the coastal region of Balochistan. The Speaker had revealed in a rare press conference that the Balochistan government was under constant pressure from the Prime Minister House in Islamabad to endorse a summery, which is currently pending at the Revenue Department, to provide huge areas of land to the Arabs.
While Bhootani does not belong to a nationalist party, he has gained tremendous backing from Baloch nationalist parties that have assured him full and timely cooperation on the matter. Senator Abdul Malik Baloch, the central President of the National Party, spoke to the media in his party office in Turbat and admired Bhootani for bringing up the issue to public notice. Senator Malik said he would protest on the floor of the Senate against the plot to sell the Baloch land. He was reported as saying that no one should assume that Balochistan lacked leaders to guard its territorial integrity. “Balochistan is not orphan,” he said, “we will fight for it.”
Senator Malik Baloch pointed out that Islamabad was greedily aspiring to grab land in Balochistan under varying pretexts. Previously, similar attempts were made to deprive the people of Balochistan of their lands under the excuse of constructing a port in Gwadar. Later on, Pakistan Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guards also expressed their desire to acquire land in Balochistan’s coastal areas.
“Instead of selling the Baloch land to Arab sheiks, the federal government should make efforts to provide facilities to the local farmers to work on these huge areas of land,” suggested Malik, whose National Party has a strong influence in Mekran region.
Balochistan’s largest nationalist party, the Balochistan National Party (BNP), has reacted to the news in a very harsh tone and warned, “anyone who eyes the Baloch resources will get his eye taken out by the ‘honorable’ and “brave”Balochs”. In a media statement, Dr. Jhanzaib Jamaldini, the acting central President of BNP, said BA Speaker Bhootani had proved himself as a “real son of the soil” by raising the issue in a press conference before it was too late.
Insisting that the people of Balochistan had not been taken into confidence in a number of significant developments during the previous government, the BNP has demanded the cancellation of agreements signed with Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) and companies operating at the multi-billion Sandak and Reko Diq projects.
“The Federal government is acting on an anti-Baloch policy,” alleged the BNP president,”Islamabad is trying to sell Balochistan to foreign forces, multinational companies and Arab sheiks. We’d like to warn the federal government to give up the hostile policies of the previous governments towards Balochistan. Otherwise, every Baloch knows how to take out those eyes which are set to capture our resources.”
We admire BNP and NP for supporting Aslam Bhootani over his brave stance instead of playing routine party politics. The newly emerged issue does not necessarily pertain to a single political party nor does it have to be related to those who believe in parliamentary politics or independence of Balochistan. All stakeholders in the province should get together to make sure that no foreign force manages to secretly acquire land in Balochistan.
The increasing influence of Arab countries in Pakistan and particularly in Balochistan is a matter of dire concern. It is regrettable, though not puzzling, that right-wing political parties like Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and Jammat-e-Islami (JI) assemble thousands of people and issue regular statements to resist the “American presence” on their “sovereign land” but they do not utter a word about the Arab influence. What are the objectives, intentions and designs of the Arab countries in Balochistan? The people of Balochistan must be informed.
Mark Steyn, the author of America Alone: The End of World as We Know it, once rightly remarked that the principal export of Saudi Arabia was not oil but ideology. Some Arab countries are pumping huge amounts of money in Balochistan to radicalize the Baloch society and counter the progressive nationalistic movement. Steyn also observed that the Arab countries were the only ones which met both the ends of the Bush Doctrine. They were among the friends as well as the enemies. While some of the Arab sheiks love to send their kids to Europe and America to get “western education”, they keep sending hefty amounts in backward societies like Balochistan to promote radical version of Islam. Thus, we are today confronted with a rising generation of radicalized youth.
Balochistan Chief Minister Raisani is in fact an equal culprit in providing space to the Arabs as he recently announced to introduce Arabic language from the next academic year in all schools of Balochistan.
Political parties and the civil society in Balochistan must unite to fight common threats for the greater welfare of the province.