By Ahmed Saeed
In light of political, social and cultural values, Balochistan province is far away from being developed. Since the creation of Pakistan, the province is suffering from the disparities of various kinds. The public sector departments such as education and health have been constantly bearing the negligence of authorities. Province population, being deprived of facilities, has turned to be the hater of political elites of Balochistan and other developed provinces like Punjab. This hate for the other provinces has created ethnic apartheid in the country. Exception to that, the natural resources including human resources can uplift the poor socio-economic conditions of the province as well as the country.
Since the very inception, Baluch people are bearing the brunt of political elites and ethnic issues which results in high unemployment rate, poor health infrastructure and low quality education. in the country. Currently, Balochistan province has the highest rate of unemployment in the country i.e. more than 4pc. Due to a lack of employment opportunities in Balochistan, the youth of the province is more vulnerable compared to other provinces. Due to this unemployment, in June 2019, ‘Nazar Muhammad’ a student of BS (Chemical Engineering) lost his life and was burned alive, on Kech highway, while transporting oil illegally to earn his living.
Additionally, health related facilities paint the gloomy picture of the province. Due to poor budgetary allocation, lack of funds and biased behavior of political parties towards the province people has worsened the situation of the province. According to one estimate, there exists only 1 doctor for 7,300 people in Balochistan. Similarly, in the education sector, the province government has done nothing yet. The situation can be estimated through the figures that tell us that only 29pc of the women and 40pc of the male population are in school and 66pc children are working as child labor. All this picturize a grim situation of the province.
The Baluch province comprises 5.94pc of country’s population i.e. 13million and also is the largest province of Pakistan by land area. It has total land area of 347,190 sq. km, 43pc of total area, which contains huge amount of natural resources such as mineral deposits and human resources. If these resources are fully utilized in true letter and spirit, the poor socio-economic conditions of the province and the whole Pakistan can be eliminated. The natural reserves in the province include gold, copper, oil, valuable stones, chromite and natural gas. Also, it has an oceanic coastline, 750 km long, that stretches along with one of the world’s most important shipping routes i.e., the Strait of Hormuz.
While keeping the resources in mind, it can be said that prosperity of Pakistan is linked with the prosperity of Balochistan, directly or indirectly. High employment rate or high per capita income will strengthen the economy, high literacy rate will carve out intellectuals and state of the art health facilities will give the sound mind along with sound body. All these factors will lead to a strong and enthusiastic youth, which will result in economic growth of the country as well as improved life standard of the population.
By the same token, launching of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has brought the hope of regional uplift. Through the special economic zones of CPEC, a lot of investment will be landed in the region. Electronics, automobile, pharmaceutical and ceramic industries will provide employment in the region and establishment of power plants will overcome the energy scarcity of the province and country as well. Likewise, appropriate exploitation of natural resources will increase exports of the country and following trade will prosperous the life style of locals. Also, locals will get the locally manufactured products at very low cost.
Upon considering all the facts, it is clearly evident that the Balochistan province has been suffering the poor-economics condition from the very beginning. Despite abundance of natural resources, the Baluch people did not get any sensible leadership to uplift the province socio-economic conditions. Feudal landlords have destroyed the political system of the province. On the other hand, prosperity in Balochistan ensure prosperity in Pakistan because of its natural reserves. Though, CPEC is playing its role in this regard but a lot of work is still needed to do for the uplift of the province.
Ahmed Saeed is an analyst based in Islamabad