Balochistan

Introduction
Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the southwestern region of the country. It shares its border with Punjab and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to the northeast, Sindh to the southeast, the Arabian Sea to the south, Iran to the west, and Afghanistan to the north. While it occupies roughly 43 per cent of Pakistan's land-mass, it only has 5 per cent of the population, and contributes to 36 per cent of the country’s total gas production.

Demographics

Most of the inhabitants of the province are Balochs, Pashtuns and Brahuis, though there are smaller communities of Iranian Balochs, Hazaras, Sindhis and other settlers. The population density of the province is low, as a result of its rugged, mountainous terrain and water scarcity. A 2005 census concerning Afghans in Pakistan showed a total of 769,268 Afghan refugees staying in Balochistan. However, considered how many refugees were repatriated in 2013, that number today is bound to be much lower.

The province of Baluchistan has significantly lower Human Development Indicators as compared to some of the other provinces in Pakistan, and only 28 per cent of the population 10 years and over is literate. Only 47 per cent of the population has access to an improved drinking water source

Economy

The economy of Balochistan is largely based upon the production of natural gas, coal and minerals. Agriculture and livestock also dominate the Baloch economy. Economic growth in Balochistan stagnated between 1995 and 2005 due to limited investment and capital accumulation, and the province saw no significant investment in productive streams. There are multiple large-scale development projects in Balochistan, including a Including a gold mine with a $500bn value, a copper and gold project in Saindak, and a soon to be completed multi-million dollar deep-sea port is under development in Balochistan, which is projected to be the hub of energy and trade to and from China and the Central Asian republics.

The GDP (nominal) of Balochistan (in USD) is 4,996, which is much lower than the other provinces.

Politics

The province of Balochistan has had a tumultuous history, beginning from when the four princely states that form present-day Balochistan: Makran, Kharan, Las Bela and Kalat -  became a part of Pakistan in August 1947. The Khan of Kalat agreed to join Pakistan under the condition that defence, currency, foreign relations, and finance would be controlled by the federal government, but that the province would otherwise remain autonomous. Following significant disagreements with the central government, there were multiple insurgencies by Baloch nationalists in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-63 and 1973-77, and a current low-intensity insurgency that has been going on since 2003.

The Baloch separatists demand greater autonomy, increased royalties from natural resources, and an independent nation-state. The tensions were only exacerbated when then President Pervez Musharraf assassinated veteran Baloch nationalist leader and former Chief Minister of the province Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in 2006.

The current conflict between Baloch nationalists and the Government of Pakistan has been severely criticized by rights groups, and has resulted in missing persons and military and paramilitary abuses. The Hazara community, a mainly Shiite community, have been the victims of persecution in the province, and at least 1300 Hazara members have been killed and over 1500 have been injured in recent years in the province.

The current chief minister of Balochistan is Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The leader of opposition is Moulana Abdul Wasey, from the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam (JUI-F). Balochistan follows a parliamentary set-up, and (as with other provinces of Pakistan), received considerable provincial autonomy as part of the 18th amendment to the constitution of Pakistan to legislate on issues.

 

Further Reading:

How Balochistan became a part of Pakistan - a historical perspective
Balochistan in History
Dark Coordior: Conflict in Balochistan must be resolved for a trade-corridor between Pakistan and China to bring rewards