Balochistan: Foiling the conspiracies
Posted on 8 months ago
In his famous, ‘Resource Curse Theory’ Richard Auty defines and explains the curse faced by natural resources enriched regions of the world. Historic evidences give us this unfortunate judgement that any part of the world possessing marvellous natural resources in any form, rarely enjoy its fruit.
Rather such region becomes a victim of conspiracies by different actors for the occupation of its resources. In his book, ‘Sustaining Development in Mineral Economies’ Richard Auty, amply described the problems with such resourced regions and states. It is widely believed that natural mineral resources are desirable. Indeed, it seems that natural assets can distort the economy to such a degree that the benefit actually becomes a curse.
Similarly, Robert D. Kaplan, the distinguished geopolitical analyst of Stratfor, who authored at least fourteen books, writes about the Balochistan province of Pakistan as, “One key to its fate is the future of Gwadar, a strategic port whose development will either unlock the riches of Central Asia, or plunge Pakistan into a savage, and potentially terminal, civil war.” What we are witnessing today in Balochistan is the true manifestation of the ‘Resource Curse Theory’ or the deciding time of the Kaplon’s analysis. Balochistan is a prey to conspiracies by different regional and extra-regional powers.
This God gifted province, has immense natural resources with traditionally hardworking work force. A summary of the already explored mineral resources of the province include; the Saindak mining project, possessing one of the world’s largest copper and gold deposits. Saindak is expected to have 1,339.25 tonnes of gold reserves, thus would generate annual revenue of $ 55 million. Besides, Reko Diq in the Chagai District is a giant mining project in Balochistan. Though, yet to be fully explored and exploited, the deposits at Reko Diq is a large low grade copper porphyry, with total mineral resources of 5.9 billion tons of ore with an average copper grade of 0.41% and gold grade of 0.22 g/ton.
There is abundant natural gas in the province; Sui (1952), Loti, Pir Koh, Dohdak, Zin, mostly in the Bugti area. According to a report published in 2003/4, Pakistan has 840,200,000,000 cubic feet (cf) of proven gas reserves, and currently produces around 37,500,000,000 cf a year, all of which is consumed domestically. Coal is yet another natural resource, found abundantly in the province. Coal, is found and mined in the Central Brahui range, in the Sor range near Quetta, Marri-Bugti areas, Mach, Duki, and Loralai and Chamalang. Coal mining of Balochistan is perhaps the industry in Pakistan that employs the largest number of unskilled labourers.
Located at the mouth of Persian Gulf, right at the proximity of the Straits of Hormuz, the Gwadar port of Pakistan has a strategic significance. Since the major shipping route connecting three main continents; Asia, Africa and Europe are passing through the vicinity of this port, therefore, it has attained the status of a key strategic and commercial port. Over sixty percent of global trade and transportation of oil tankers takes place through the neighbouring waters of the Gwadar Port. Owing to its “geo-strategic location, Gwadar has the potential to become a regional maritime hub. In connection with the global trade, Gwadar port presents itself as the best alternative and the storage port, as it can handle the major ships and oil tankers.
Over the years, there has been much coherent information that, once Gwadar Port is operational, ports of neighbouring countries would lose their significance. Therefore, these countries have directly or indirectly contributed towards the destabilization of the areas surrounding the port. As well as the extra regional forces, having deep interests in the region and eyeing the unexplored natural resources of this rich province are playing their game here. Local Baloch population was provoked in the name of Baloch sub-nationalism that their rights over their own land are being compromised by the Federal Government. Upon heavy funding by these countries, some misled elements of the Province even acted as desired by the powers behind them. Even the basic developers of the port, the Chinese engineers were abducted and in many cases were killed or wounded.
States use both the internal as well as external means to achieve the end target, set by them. Internally states try to get economic and military strength, whereas external means lead to the making of alliances, weakening the peer competitors/challenger state by depriving it of the opportunities to grow. The current situation in the province indeed, is a sum total of the follies of the past rulers of the country. It is because of their deliberate overlooking of the socio-economic condition of masses that the situation has worsened to this level. Federation maintained a policy of pleasing the sardars and ignoring the masses, constituting the bulk of the province indeed. In the process, the sardars exploited both as per their convenience. Even today, those masses being used by sardars to challenge the writ of the government are unaware of the motives behind. They act as per ordain of Sardars. Mostly the insurgents are the paid murderers of the sardars and now international players too. Even after having known all the facts, those at the helm of affairs are keeping mum over the extraordinarily changing situation.
“Time changes the geography of the nations who do not learn from history.” The problem with us is that, we also do not learn from our past mistakes. Besides innumerable global challenges and conspiracies, Pakistan facing today, the biggest threat to Pakistan is the internal strife. If Pakistanis are able to get rid of their internal differences and hate culture, we can overcome the external conspiracies and challenges. The rapidly deteriorating situation of the Balochistan demands an immediate action plan, rather a blame-game. The situation warrants a consensus political solution. Baloch people are the part of this mother-land and their grievances must be addressed. Whereas, the diplomacy must play its part in dismantling the terrorists’ camps, established in Afghanistan by contacting Afghan Government, our own LEAs must stop infiltration of foreign elements into the province.
The incumbent federal government has given maximum funds to the province, besides, Aaghaaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan Package and redistribution of resources in the NFC award. Nevertheless, it could not ensure the implementation of these packages and resultant improvement in the social well being of the people of province. At this trying time of the history of Pakistan, just allotment of funds and formulation of committees and commissions would not resolve the problem. Nevertheless, the implementation on ground would really matter a lot.
An indiscriminate socio-economic development of the province in this regard would play a major role. There is a need that representatives of the federal and provincial governments (both elected and potentials) along with responsible bureaucracy must visit the province physically to know the real problems and to address their grievances on spot. These visits should not be restricted to Quetta, but at least at the level of tehsils and sub-divisions. These groups should have a mandate to decide things on ground and later in consultation with the respective governments should initiate long-term projects. The youth of the province, irrespective of their academic level, should be given jobs to absorb them in the larger Pakistani society.
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