There have been several reports in recent days of the federal government using its influence to get thousands of acres of coastal land in Balochistan sold to Arab Sheikhs from the UAE. According to the speaker of the Balochistan assembly, Aslam Bhootani:
Arab sheikhs who occasionally visit the area for hunting purposes want exclusive control over the vast tract of valuable land. Now they want to set up their private buildings and airport,” he said, adding that he was on an official visit to India when the incident took place and when he returned he informed the CM regarding the matter, who then stopped the summery from being issued. “If I will not protect the interests of the people then there is no justification for me to remain in office or be a member of the assembly,” he said.
“We acknowledge the efforts made by the PM to address the grievances of Balochistan, but it does not mean we can allow any one to sell our lands,” he said. The speaker demanded the federal government or the PM office not pressurise the provincial government on the issue because “we will not allow any one to become the owner of our land”.
See also, this report in the Nation
On Twitter, Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer made the following remarkable statement regarding this news:
What’s the harm in selling Balochstan land 2 Arab prince will help develop area. Dubai UAE US Italy everybody does it.Everything is Izzat!
Now setting aside the fact that the hunting of endangered species such as the Houbara Bustard is a condemnable action and that the government has no business issuing hunting licenses to Arab princes (as they do year after year), there is also the more important matter that selling thousands of acres of land to Arab princes in Balochistan which is already on the brink of rebellion shows a complete lack of sensitivity by the federal government. Finally, what kind of “development” would Governor Taseer expect Arab princes to undertake on land that they are purchasing for the purpose of maintaining as a hunting preserve?!
Update: Governor Taseer followed up his original statement with the following:
Plenty of property was sold to Arabs in Lahore Karachi etc what’s so sacred about Baluchistan? How can u develop wth this type of attitude?