sangeen khan

Written by Paradigm Shift 4:13 pm Interviews

Education in Balochistan: A Conversation with Sangeen Khan

In our conversation with Mr Sangeen Khan, a strategic affairs analyst and a social activist from Balochistan, we understand that education seems to be the only cure to the plight of the people in the province.
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Mr Sangeen Khan is a Strategic Affairs Analyst at PTV world, a state-led channel, and a social activist who hails from Ziarat, Balochistan. He is an alumnus of  National Defence University, Islamabad. He is also a member of the Pakistan Council on China, a think tank working on China-Pakistan relations since 2012. 

Mr Sangeen Khan has served as an instructor at various institutions in Balochistan. He is actively promoting education and awareness services in far-flung areas of Balochistan. He can be reached at [email protected]

  1. What made you want to become a social activist?

From a very young age, I availed myself of the opportunity of analyzing Pakistani society through the lens of a layman who has always been eager to make it a better place to live in. I always wanted to improve people’s living by providing them with opportunities so that they could make bread and butter for themselves and contribute to the betterment of society to their fullest potential.

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  • As a social activist in Pakistan, what would you, Mr Sangeen Khan, say are the biggest problems in the country?

Pakistani society being in its embryonic stage is flooded with problems: social, economic, and political. However, keeping in view the development made by advanced countries it would be right to suggest that illiteracy has always been the root cause of all other problems because of which people are also unaware of their constitutional rights and thus cannot contribute to the well-being of society.

  • What has been your biggest achievement in life, Mr Sangeen Khan?

I have supported a number of children to get to the best schools in Pakistan and I started this journey from my hometown. In the future, I’m also determined to spread this idea of ‘Education for All’ to other places as well. Above all, this idea can only be turned into reality with the help of some donors.

  • As a true son of Balochistan, what are the main issues the province faces?

I believe that the lack of education is the main problem and the root cause of all other problems faced by the masses in Balochistan. If the grave problem of illiteracy is eradicated, then there is a hope that all other problems would be automatically solved.

  • How does the average Baloch feel about the BLA and other terrorist groups?

 A Baloch like all other nationalists does not support any kind of terrorist activities. A Baloch wants to see harmony among different factions of people living in Balochistan.

  • Do you think Balochistan is headed in the right direction in terms of development or is it going backwards?

Being the largest province of Pakistan by area, Balochistan is in dire need of projects like CPEC which could help in the prosperity of the province. However, politics must not be allowed to intervene in such voluminous infrastructural projects that in future will pave the way for the development of province as well as Pakistan.

  • Pakistan has ignored and undermined Balochistan throughout its history. What needs to be done so the Baloch people feel integrated with the rest of the country?

This has always been a matter of serious concern, so there is no doubt about the aforementioned statement. However, it should also be noted that the role of Baloch political parties towards the goodwill of their own people has never been free of vested interests. These political parties have not prioritized the development and progress of the Baloch people and the land. Thus, this rift has ultimately contributed to the sentiments of national disintegration among the Baloch people.

  • Gwadar and CPEC are a game changer for the province, but India and America have fanned the flames of terrorism to undermine the project. What are your thoughts about this, Mr Sangeen Khan?

A country like Pakistan is in need of such developmental projects to stabilize its economy. Undoubtedly, the projects would soon turn into a game changer for South Asia and help Pakistan stand out in the region. While the threats to these projects are genuine, we should believe in our security forces and hope for the very best.

  • The current political situation in Pakistan is quite dire. What do you think needs to be done to come out of this? And what are your thoughts on PTI’s future?

This is the worst time Pakistani politics has ever seen in the past few decades. This political turmoil has turned the tables for the bright future of the country. I believe that political parties should come to the table to reconcile in the best interests of the country. 

  • Balochistan can become as popular as Pakistan’s northern areas with places like Ziarat, Gwadar, Astola Island, Hingol National Park, Khuzdar etc but unfortunately, many Pakistanis do not know of such gems, what can be done to promote tourism in the province?

Balochistan, a land of diverse cultural and economic potential, has been left on its own. Unfortunately, up till now, we have been unable to tap the full potential of tourism in Balochistan. This is partly due to government neglect and partly because of the prevailing law and order situation.

  • Pakistan’s army is a national army and this is a primary reason for its strength. In recent years, has Baloch participation in the armed forces increased?

Absolutely, Baloch participation has increased and the credit goes to the leadership of the Armed forces. They have not only increased the participation of Baloch masses directly in service but have also increased the number of Baloch students in cadet colleges.

  • In Balochistan, we usually hear that the provincial government is a coalition. Do Baloch people usually lean left or right? What political ideology is popular in the province?

I think the question of leaning left or right is out of context. These poor people are mostly manipulated because of the lack of education and other resources. I would therefore recommend the masses get the education to become aware of their fundamental constitutional rights. This would be the only way for the Baloch people to decide their political destiny.

  • Lastly, do you have any message for our audience (who are mostly young and educated Pakistanis)?

Education should be the prime priority of our youth. In my opinion, the youth best equipped with education would play a fundamental role in upbringing the country out of the interminable crisis. As rightly put  by Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”  

There could be a two-pronged strategy for resolving the Balochistan issue:  The soft development approach means imparting and improving socioeconomic conditions and the hard development approach would require military operations against those who challenge the writ of the state.

The approach of relying on kinetic operations alone can ensure only temporary peace; a low-level insurgency could continue almost indefinitely unless socio-economic grievances are addressed.

We must recognise that the Baloch insurgency is mainly home-grown (besides external factors) and caused by political failures. A comprehensive strategy for political reconciliation must be developed, so that engagement and credible political voices are allowed to grow. 

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