While inaugurating Musakhail mineral development project Friday, Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani said the Pak Army had no interest in developing such projects except that natural resources should be exploited for the benefit of local population.
The COAS inaugurated the coal and marble field and a school building in Musakhail, one of the most backward districts of Balochistan, bordering Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Former governor Sardar Gul Muhammad Khan Jogezai, Provincial Minister for Labour Sarwar Nadeem Musakhail, Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Javed Zia and Balochistan Inspector General of Frontier Corps Major Gen Obaidullah Khattak also spoke on the occasion. Provincial ministers, tribal elders and a large number of notables of the area were also present.
Two to five million tones of coal reservoirs have been estimated in the area which would last for next 15 years while the details of marble deposits have yet to be ascertained after detailed surveys. Besides the government royalty, a tax of Rs 400 per tone was decided to be levied for providing security to the field area and whole route up to Punjab border. Some 20 trucks (each carrying 30 to 35 tones) of coal would be transported to Punjab.
Kyani said the Army had no personal interest in developing and managing the natural resources projects in Balochistan except that it wanted to exploit these resources for the benefit of local population education, health and capacity building and creation of jobs.
He said the Army was invited to start the mineral projects in Balochistan by the local people due to tribal and local disputes. Musakhail mineral development project is a part of Armys efforts to bring prosperity in the local areas, he added. Prosperity could not be brought to the area where law and order situation did not exist, he added.
He said Balochistan was a mineral rich province and its people should think of extending their cooperation to the government and Pakistan Army which were making efforts for their welfare. He said the people, particularly various tribes, had entered into agreements after burying their hatchets over the mineral exploration and its exploitation for their own benefits.
He said 6,000 persons from Balochistan had been accommodated in the Army and it was willing to accommodate even more than the provincial quota.
The Army chief said 500 more jobs would be created for the Baloch youngsters to accommodate them in various departments of the Army and it would be announced on August 14. This year their number would reach up to 12,000 in the Army, he added.
General Kyani said the mineral development project was in fact a gift on the part of Pakistan Army for the people of Musakhail on the Independence Day. He assured the local people they would get maximum benefits from these projects in terms of education, health care and basic infrastructure. He said the Army supported the right of local people on the benefits of natural resources more than the people of other areas.
In response to welcome address by the local minister wherein he demanded to set up a military college in Musakhail, the Army chief said first military college was set up at Jehlum in 1920 and second at Muree three years back while this year a military college had been set up at Sui. He said no second college could be built in the same area, adding if the Army decided to establish more military colleges it would be done either in Sindh or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, he promised to set up a high school at Musakhail town besides awarding scholarships to the needy and poor students of the area.
While mentioning various projects in Balochistan initiated by the Pakistan Army like Chamalung Coalmine Project, Kasa Marble, Duki Coal, Sui Military College and Balochistan Institute of Technical Education in Quetta and Gawder, General Kyani said a project for preserving dates and marketing in Punjgoor district would also be launched. Some 4,000 youths have been trained and some of them have been recruited while the others would be provided jobs soon, he informed.
Speaking on the occasion, Sardar Gul Jogezai, without mentioning the name of Pashtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party, showed a newspaper carrying the statement of the party criticising Army for its involvement in mineral development and education projects. He said credit went to the Army for bringing peace in Balochistan by bringing warring tribes closer to each others for the prosperity and progress of Balochistan. He said the Army should also be involved in administrative matters to resolve the governance issue in the province.
In his welcome address, Sarwar Nadeem thanked the Army chief for giving the area due importance and initiating various projects for bringing the district at par with developed parts of the country. He demanded of the Army chief to make efforts for construction of dams for making thousands of fertile lands agriable besides conducting surveys for gas and oil exploration in the area.