Why Pakistan’s Richest Province Remains Backward

Despite an abundance of precious resources, Balochistan remains backward due to our incompetent leadership.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s wealthiest province containing giant deposits of gold, copper, gas, marble and other natural resources, remains underdeveloped. The people living in the province are economically backward and illiterate.

Even in some places the people can’t get clean water to drink.

Moreover, Balochistan possesses tremendous potential of metallic and non-metallic minerals. About 90 percent of coal is being taken form Balochistan and dispatched to other provinces. Chromite is found in Muslim Bagh, Killa Saifullah, Lasbela, Khuzdar, Kharan and Chaghi, respectively.

The biggest deposit of baryte is located near Khuzdar with total reserves over 200 million tons. Scientific mining and grinding at this site began in 1976. Almost the entire production of baryte is consumed by the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) and other oil drilling companies.

Sulphur deposits are available at the Koh-i-Sultan District of Chagai. Three main deposits are clustered around the southern half of the extinct volcano, Koh-i-Sultan. The sulphur is mainly used for the manufacturing of sulphuric acid. Large deposits of sulpher are found throughout the Chagai District, starting from Dalbandin and extending to border Iran. Some deposits are located close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, namely Zardan, Sia Chang, Jhulli, Patkok, Amaskichah.

Onyx, a dark green marble found in Chaghi, is of superior quality. Onyx is found in Bolan, Lasbela and Khuzdar Districts.

Iron ore is a type of mineral found in Chaghi that possesses 30 million tons.

Quartzite, believed to be a newly discovered mineral, is found in the Lasbela District.

Limestone exists in abundance in different parts of Balochistan. Limestone 50 to 300 thick layers is widely found throughout the Pakistani province.

Sui gas was found in Sui,a sub district of Dera Bugti District, in 1952. The Sui gas field is located near Sui town, and Pakistan is providing gas to the rest of its provinces from this gas field.

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Large gold and copper mines are located near Saindak town in the Chagai District of Balochistan. Copper deposits in Saindak were discovered in the 1970s in collaboration worth a Chinese engineering firm. The Saindak Copper-Gold Mine (SCGP) was set up by Saindak Metals Ltd, a company entirely owned by the Pakistani government.

Pakistan and China signed a formal contract worth $350 million for the development of Saindak. As per the lease agreement 50 percent of revenue from the mine goes to the Metallurgical Construction Company (MCC); 48 percent is allocated to Islamabad; and only 2 percent goes to the government of Balochistan.

Despite an abundance of precious resources, Balochistan remains backward due to our incompetent leadership.

Moreover, Balochistan suffers from chronic instability. It is very disappointing to mention that Abdul Malik Baloch, Balochistan’s chief minister, claimed before general elections that he would bring economic and education reform. Yet no realistic change or reform has been implemented.

Zareen Dashti is a student of Law at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

  • Guest

    Saddening, indeed! Balochistan has the highest rates of maternal, infant and child mortality in Pakistan, the lowest literacy rates, and the highest poverty rates. But the author rightly said it is primarily a lack of leadership and unity among the people of Balochistan that prevents its development, along with the geo-political situation where the forces surrounding this province (including the security apparatus of Pakistani government) have literally occupied this great area and enslaved its great people. Alas! these external forces always find their accomplices from within the Baloch/Pashtun chieftains and criminals.