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Over 250 far-flung Villages of Balochistan will soon be facilitated with 3G services

The contract worth Rs 2.33 billion has been given to telecom service provider, Ufone, under the Broadband for Sustainable Development project

Women in Balochistan. Wikimedia

January 3, 2017: Universal Service Fund (USF) and Ministry of Information Technology (MOITT) have signed an agreement to provide 3G services to 257 villages of Awaran and Lasbela districts in Balochistan.

The broadband project of Awaran-Lasbela was announced in November 2016. The contract worth Rs 2.33 billion has been given to telecom service provider, Ufone, under the Broadband for Sustainable Development (BSD) project.The Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and MOITT Minister Anusha Rehman were also present at the ceremony.

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The Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the government is committed to bringing people of all areas into the country’s financial and digital mainstream. He also promised provision of information technology (IT) in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

The government has been focusing on developing telecommunication, highways, and railways to ensure proper connectivity, he added, mentioned report.

Senator Dar pointed out that Multan-Sukkur section of Lahore-Karachi Motorway was commercially not viable but the Government brought it under the ambit of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to implement the project successfully.

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Speaking on the occasion, IT Minister Anusha Rahman said several projects to provide the technology in remote and backward areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), are under implementation.

About 190 villages of Turbat, Gwadar, Ketchh and Panjgur are also being connected under the scheme, she added.

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With a widespread array of an infrastructural network under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), 6,400km optic fibre network digitally linking the entire country has been laid down, the minister said.

Anusha Rahman also briefed about the performance of MOITT and USF in providing telecommunication services to the unserved areas of the Pakistan.

– Prepared by Ruchika Kumari of NewsGram. Twitter: @RuchiUjjaini

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The President also called for more mental institutions and hospitals in addition to the idea of arming teachers.
The President also called for more mental institutions and hospitals in addition to the idea of arming teachers. Wikimedia Commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.