Militancy Devastates Balochistan Agriculture

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province in the southwest, has become a hotbed of insurgency, militancy, sectarian violence and tribal feuds.

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Credit: The Baloch Hal

Although the largest province in size, Balochistan’s population is only 5 percent of Pakistan’s total population and nearly 80 percent of which lives in rural areas. However security in Balochistan is getting worse each day.

Terrorism, sectarian violence, targeted killing, kidnapping for ransom, attacks on security forces, and missing people have become the norm in Balochistan. The violence and instability have destroyed the local economy.

According to former speaker of the Balochistan provincial assembly, Mir Akram Dashti, agriculture once was the major economic activity in the province. Agriculture contributed over 50 percent of the provincial domestic product: The major crops constitute over 26, minor crops 8, livestock 15, forestry 0.3 and fishery 1.5 percent.

Mr. Dashti says that about two-thirds of the total labor force was engaged in agriculture before Balochistan’s decline in law and order. People enjoy Balochistan’s sweet dates and fish from the warm seas of Gwadar across the world. There are many dates, peaches, apples, wheat and other natural resources in the troubled province which can no longer be enjoyed because of increasing militancy, extremism and the devastating 7.7 magnitude earthquake which struck Balochistan in September 2013.

Balochistan’s agricultural economy has suffered from an ongoing insurgency of Baloch nationalists fighting for autonomy from Pakistan and more access to its natural resources. Baloch militants have attacked state-owned natural gas pipelines, water lines, and electrical infrastructures to press for Baloch secession. Pakistani authorities have responded by abducting people and making arbitrary arrests.

Iqbal Bangulzai, a landlord from a town in Balochistan called Mastung who owns 140 acres land, says he suffered huge losses due to the ongoing militancy, as most investors hailing from Iran and other parts of the country could not come and buy the fruit due.

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Fruits and vegetables were also a major source of income for others

Local transporters, loaders, pickers and packers are directly dependent upon the agricultural sector in Balochistan. “We are passing through very tough times due to violence and then lack of government interest,” said Wahid Lehri, a laborer who loads boxes of fruits on trucks for Karachi and Lahore.

“The situation will improve dramatically if the provincial government takes an interest and lends us a helping hand, Lehri asserted; adding that hundreds of acres of fertile land can support crop growth, but the wave of militancy has turned our field to barren land.”

In response, Balochistan’s Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch said the provincial government had increased employee salaries by up to 15 percent. He added that his government would create 4,493 new jobs in the next fiscal year to curb unemployment in the province.

Kiyya Qadir Baloch is a freelance Baloch journalist associated with the Daily Times based in Islamabad. He reports on foreign affairs, Baloch insurgency, militancy and sectarian violence in Balochistan. Read other articles by Kiyya.

  • Baluch Khan

    Thums UP Kiyya, you’re the voice of everyy opressed people. we have pin hope on you, you;re the future, you;re the voice please takecare of yourself and carry on this great work, I am really always praying for you. instead of challenges and intimidations you have not surrendered like all those so called baloch journalists who are living a luxrious life in west and USA. I salute your efforts and courage. proud of you dear and thanks SGV. please take special care of our young boy, <3