The ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of Pakistan is as varied as the country’s geography and agro-climatic zones. The geographical and agro-climate zone advantage have thrived all the provinces while certain areas suffered and left some of the citizens marganilised and vulnerable because of the same reasons. Balochistan is largest province of Pakistan in terms of area, having low population density and difficult geographical terrain. Since the last few decades efforts are made by the government of Pakistan to uplift the socio-economic stature of Balochistan and its people. The massive developmental projects have been started to uplift the socio-economic status of the province and its masses during the General Mushraff era. Consecutive federal and provincial government made efforts to improve the infrastructure of basis services like health, education.
Despite making up 44% of Pakistan’s total area, Balochistan is the home to just 5% of the country’s people, which presents both possibilities and problems for the country’s social advancement. It is estimated that almost half of Balochistan’s working population has been engaged in traditional agricultural, livestock, and fisheries activities for many years. As it is desert, this region of the nation has few irrigation facilities, and old techniques like the “karez” system (a water tunnel system for drinking and irrigation) are still employed in the province’s uphill sections. There is a lot of short-term and seasonal employment in these economic activities. About 15% of the people are employed by the wholesale and retail trade business, which is the second biggest employer in the province.
As a result of its abundant natural resources, Balochistan has a great deal of potential to transform itself into a better place for the people who live there. Balochistan is also noted for its abundant natural riches and economic potential. The unique environment of Balochistan also provides many opportunities for development and prosperity. Rare minerals and oil products are plentiful in the province, which has yet to be properly explored or exploited. The province have some of the greatest fishing areas along the shore and have the large potential of fishing and tourism.
Gas prices in Pakistan have fallen dramatically since it was first installed in Baochistan, and this has allowed the nation to develop and prosper. Large rangelands in the province have been used for the raising of livestock, which has led to overgrazing. There are a lot of marine resources along the lengthy coastline, which might be a commercial center. By making travel and commerce more affordable, it has the potential to grow into a significant business that benefits emerging nations. Trade with Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the Persian Gulf is facilitated by its location as a border province. Additionally, Gwadar, Pakistan’s only port outside of Karachi, is located there, as is a route connecting the coastal provinces with the interior regions.
Apart from the other programs initiated by the government to reach the people of Balochistan the launch of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also opens the great avenues for social, political and economic stability for the province. The development of Gwadar port under CPEC is a game changer; generating revenue, bring in foreign investments and thus ultimately elevate and contribute in the socio-economic development of the Balochistan. However, the hostile elements more specifically India has been destabilizing the province. The capture of Kulbhushan Jadhav is the open evidence for the world as how India is playing a role of spoiler and destabilizing agent in the region. Hostile forces galvanized both insurgents and religious groups to destablise and create hindrance in the socio-economic development of the province. But the Pakistan act as a resilient nation and has been fighting the spoilers of the regional peace.
To ensure the province’s social, political and economic progress, any strategy must take into consideration the province’s particular geographic, environmental, demographic, cultural, and conflict-causing variables. There is dire need to address some of the issues on war footing and top of the priority should be provide the direct jobs to the local masses in the projects been carried out in the province under CPEC. Economic and trade zones of Bostan in Balochistan must be expedited. With the positive approach, right policies and planning we can utilize the huge untapped national resources which will up bring the socio-economic development of the province. The socio-economic development of Balochistan will ultimately play a substantial role in uplifting Pakistan’s economy.
The author holds an M.Phil from National Defence University and freelance writer and can be reached at [email protected].