Terrorists hiding in Balochistan are externally supported: Raheel

QUETTA: Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Tuesday said Balochistan had become a hotbed of proxy wars for regional and global grand strategy by many powers, Aaj News reported.

“This is a battle that we all are fighting, and we shall continue to fight, till peace prevails across the width and breadth of the province,” he said this while addressing a national seminar in Quetta on ‘Peace and Prosperity in Balochistan’. Chief Minister Balochistan Nawabzada Sanaullah Zehri, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, members of parliament, representatives of academia and media and people from other walks of life were also present on the occasion.

Raheel Sharif said terrorists were externally supported and internally facilitated. They were defiant and cunning. Law Enforcement Agencies had conducted over 2400 intelligence-based operations in Balochistan since Aug 2014 and 204 lives had been sacrificed.

The COAS said our foreign adversaries had been more than eager to exploit any opportunity to destabilize Pakistan by harbouring, training and funding dissidents and militants.

He said reviewing the prospects of peace and prosperity in Balochistan was indeed need of the hour. “Balochistan is very close to my heart. I was born in Quetta at 10 Litton Road. As a young lieutenant, my first posting was at khuzdar. I have spent almost nine years in Balochistan and served as Chief of Staff Southern Command.”

He said Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps, Police, Coast Guards, Levies and above all, people of Balochistan had defended the integrity of Pakistan with unflinching resolve for which they deservde special appreciation.

Raheel said the issues were further complicated by the foreign interference in the largest province of Pakistan and across a porous border spanning hundreds of Kilometers.

“The resilience of the people, its geo-strategic location, and enormous wealth of natural resources such as RekoDiq are the true assets of Balochistan, which must be fully optimized for prosperity of the province,” he said.

He said China –Pakistan Economic Corridor and development of Gawadar port would transform the province altogether, and for this, the local population must be its greatest beneficiary. Once the people found their stakes in this progress, the need for check posts and barricades would disappear.

“Pakistan Army, once instrumental in the completion of Makran Coastal Highway, is today playing a pivotal role in the timely completion of CPEC projects in Balochistan,” said Raheel Sharif.

He said the unprecedented contributions in communications infrastructure would usher Balochistan into an era of prosperity. Since 2014, 632 kilometers of roads have already been constructed. By the end of this year, a total of 870 kilometer of roads will be completed by FWO.