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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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The Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 2, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta LETHBRIDQE HERALD WtdnMday, January 2, Baluchistan seeks action, not words This is the last of three ar- ticles about the current struggle in remote Baluchistan for political control of its 2.5 million residents. By DANIEL SOUTHERLAND Christian Science Monitor QUETTA, Pakistan The bearded tribal leader faced the visiung representative of the World Bank and thumped his fist on the table. "We want to see some work getting he said, rattl- ing tea cups with his heavy fist. "We don't want to hear any more talk." The Baluch leader's im- patience is typical of Pakistan these days. Like so many SEE THE LENS THAT DARKENS IN THE SUNLIGHT (VARIGRAV) OPTICAL PRESCRIPTION CO. other countries, this is a land of rising expectations. But impatience is even more prevalent in the province of Baluchistan than elsewhere in Pakistan. This barren mountain region has seen many foreign economic experts come and go, with lit- tle to show for it. The latest expert to take a look here and face the demanding tribal chiefs was Gilbert Brown, an American who is senior economist in the Pakistan division of the World Bank. Dr. Brown explained to the bearded chief sitting across from hum that requests for assistance from the World Bank had to come from Pakistani central government officials. "Government officials do paperwork and make phone said the husky chief. "They do nothing but talk." THREAT Then he mumbled the ul- timate threat: "This thing will end one day like Bangladesh He meant that Baluchistan might eventually split off from Pakistan just as Bangladesh did. There are so many differences between sparsely populated, mountainous Baluchistan, with its dried up streams and heavily pop- ulated, low-lying Bangladesh, with its great rivers that a comparison between the two seems virtually meaningless. But the example of Bangladesh has made some militant Baluchis think more about breaking away from the central government, or at least about gaining some kind of autonomy. And the Bangladesh ex- perience has certainly served to heighten the impatience of the more articulate political leaders of Baluchistan. The skepticism toward government officials express- ed by the tribal chief quoted above was understandable. Baluchistan is this country's Siberia. With a few exceptions, if a government official is promoted to a position in Baluchistan, one can assume that he is being punished for having failed elsewhere. As a result, Baluchistan gets more than its share of third-rate of- ficials. Troubles in the province have been multiplying of late. Because of the scattered fighting that erupted earlier this year and because of the uncertainty of the future, private businessmen have been leaving the dusty province capital of Quetta. MINERALS Baluchistan is believed to be rich in mineials. But because of its political and military troubles, foreign companies have had second thoughts about trying to exploit its riches. A four-year drought, a ban on the inter-provincial move- ment of food grain, and the fighting have contributed to a serious shortage of wheat, the staple food of the region. In 1971-72, Baluchistan had to import about tons of wheat. These imports have increased alarmingly to 000 tons in 1972-73. Baluchistan's big problem is water, and the man who may know more about this than anyone else is Syed Hasan Nasir, director of a consulting firm that drew up the province's request for assistance to the United Nations world food program and the U.S. Agency for Inter- national Development. Previously Mr. Nasir had considerable experience working in neighboring Iran on water development pro- jects. "As far as I know, we are the poorest part of the the young expert said, speak- ing of Baluchistan. "Per capita income has ac- tually decreased here over the past 10 years. "But within five he went on, "we can outstrip any other part of Pakistan. We can transform this arid zone into a lush zone." "First we must develop agriculture, because it makes the highest payoff, in the short he said. "Then we must turn to fisheries and to minerals Baluchistan is rich in iron, aluminum, titanium, copper, and oil." But Mr. Nasir always com- es back to the problem of water. His "bible'ras he calls it, is a book on the develop- ment of the Negev Desert written by three Israelis. As Muslims and supporters of the Arab cause, Pakistanis rarely have anything good to say about Israel. But even Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has had a few words of praise for the Israelis' work in the desert. In a directive issued at the beginning of this year calling for the creation of a special department to "make the desert of Pakistan bloom" Mr. Bhutto had this to say: "If we give serious atten- tion to the development of the desert with half the enthusiasm and intelligence that Israel has e; en to its deserts, we would be most flourishing, but we regard our desert as a wasteland and a liability. "In this defeatist attitude, we have virtually written off half the country Mr. Nasir's proposal for Baluchistan involves the development of basins that would store water in un- derground aquifers. The idea would be to use the water Indonesia hikes oil JAKARTA (Reuter) In- donesian oil will cost 80 per cent more from Tuesday, va spokesman of the state-run Pertamina Oil Co said today. The spokesman announced that from Jan. 1 Indonesian crude will cost a barrel instead of the current Indonesia is producing about 1.4 million barrels of oil a day and hopes to double this by 1976. More than 70 per cent of In- donesia's exports go to Japan and about 17 per cent is sent to the United States. from flash floods and to make regional centers self suf- ficient in food grains, poultry, and livestock. In one of his many reports, Mr. Nasir warns that unless the groundwater aquifers of Baluchistan are soon recharged, the region will gradually become a dust bowl. But millions of dollars would be necessary to com- plete Mr. Nasir's "integrated multi-purpose basin develop- ment project." An untiring promoter of the project, Mr. Nasir is always on hand when foreign visitors arrive, to answer their ques- tions and take them to see the parched countryside. But even Mr. Nasir's patience has its limits. He said that the last time he visited one village where he taken foreign experts, a villager asked him, "When are these people going to stop coming here and when is something going to 'get Mr. Nasir does not take foreign experts to that village any more. 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