Economic Potential of Balochistan
The excuses given in the past by the colonizers for totally neglecting Balochistan is that the major constraints in the industrial development have been the lack or the absence of infrastructure, scattered nature of population, vastness of area, dearth of skilled labor, social structure, tribal feuds and lack of marketing facilities.
But, by examining the economic potential of Balochistan, we can prove that it’s possible for Balochistan to transform into a regional economic powerhouse. We have primarily used data from CIA’s World Factbook and other documented sources to extrapolate the following:
Balochistan comprises of an area that covers 683,000 sq km; 60,000 sq km is in Afghanistan, 280,000 sq km is in Iran, and 343,000 sq km is in Pakistan. The total length of Balochistan’s coastline is approximately 1,000-km, of which 780-km is occupied by Pakistan while the remainder is controlled by Iran.
There are approximately 15 million Baloch in the world. About 2.06 million live in Iran, 8.3 million live in Pakistan (3.25 are currently living in Pakistan’s Balochistan province), and 930,000 live in Afghanistan. The remaining Baloch population is scattered all over.
[Baloch comprise 3% of Afghanistan’s population, 3% of Iran’s population, and 5% of Pakistan’s population]
OIL AND GAS [Revenue: $42 billion per year]
Oil and Gas, both offshore and onshore, can generate a major portion of the total annual revenue for Balochistan. According to the Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP), it was estimated during their offshore exploration that there are reserves of 19 trillion cubic feet of gas and 6 trillion barrels of oil in Balochistan. The GSP research confirms large reservoirs of unexplored onshore oil and gas in Balochistan, especially in Panjgur, Lasbella, Kharan, Kalat and Marri districts.
Existing gas fields in Balochistan supply 45% or 11 billion cubic meters of Pakistan’s total gas requirements that generates $1.4 billion annually in revenue (but the Pakistani government remits only $116 million in royalties back to Balochistan!).
Although Saudi Arabia generates 10 million bbl/day of oil, smaller oil producing countries like Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Nigeria, UAE, and Venezuela produce between 2 to 4 million bbl/day. Balochistan has a potential of producing 2 million bbl/day in a very short period of time. At the current crude oil prices of $70/bbl, Balochistan can generate $140 million per day or approximately $40 billion per year in revenue!
MINERAL [Revenue: $1.5 billion per year]
The main attraction of Balochistan’s mineral sector is its unexplored geological potential. The territory is based on the geological belt with known world-class mineral deposits that could generate several billion dollars in revenues annually. More than 50 metallic and non-metallic minerals have been discovered in Balochistan. Metallic ores are chromites, copper, gold, silver, iron ore, lead and zinc, while the non-metallic include barite, marble, granite, gypsum, limestone, coal, dolomite, calcite, silica sand, and various building/engineering stones.
The Rekodiq project is estimated to produce 200,000 tons of copper and 400,000 ounces of gold per year. Saindek mines produce 15,800 tons of copper, 53,000 ounces of gold and 106,000 ounces of silver per year. In the international market, copper, gold and silver are currently traded at about $5,000 per ton, $600 per ounce, and $12 per ounce, respectively. At the current market value, it’s estimated that just the value of these three mineral deposits can generate $1.11 billion per year.
AGRICULTURE [Revenue: $250 million per year]
Balochistan possesses enormous economic potential in farming, livestock, and fisheries. These resources provide the base for setting up a large number of agro-based industries.
Only 2.06 million acres of land is cultivated in Balochistan. Naseerabad, Jafarabad, Dera Murad Jamali and Usta Mohammed and many areas of central Balochistan are considered agricultural regions. Yet, with limitation of irrigation water, yields per hectare of several crops are highest in the region such as those of dates, barley, sorghum, millet, pulses, onions, potatoes, chilies and fodders, while those of rice, sugar-cane, tobacco, gram, mash and castor bean are the second highest.
Balochistan is a pastoral economy. Livestock is the primary source of livelihood for about 67 percent of the population. Balochistan provides 40% of Pakistan’s livestock requirements. The leather, carpet and pharmaceutical industries are the main consumers of livestock downstream products.
Balochistan has a 1,000-km long coastal belt along the Arabian Sea. It has huge potential for development of fisheries. The enormous fish and seafood potential is yet to be fully tapped.
As the diversity of marine life indicates, the coastline is one of the most productive marine ecosystems of the world. According to an estimate, 60 species of fish and 10 of shrimps, including the best in the world, are found in these waters.
GWADAR PORT [Revenue: $10 billion per year]
Located outside the Straight of Hormuz, Gwadar Port will offer direct road access to Afghanistan, Central Asian States, and China. Its location at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and at the opposite end of the strategic choke points of Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman enhances its strategic importance.
The Port could accommodate 13 multipurpose berths, each 200 meters long with a 5-km approach channel and the capacity for vessels up to 50,000 DWT container ships, 100,000 DWT dry bulk carriers, and up to 200,000 DWT oil tankers.
It is assured that Gwadar Port would usher in a new era of economic development, industrial growth, and efficient communication network. Balochistan will definitely witness rapid progress and prosperity.
GAS AND OIL PIPELINE [Revenue: $2 billion per year]
There are three major pipeline projects on the books. The merging point of all these three pipelines will create opportunities for Baloch industrialists to develop value added downstream industries, such as oil refinery, fertilizer plants, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, etc.
About 1,000-km of the total 1,400-km gas pipeline costing about $3.2 billion connects Iran’s Persian Gulf South Pars gas field to the Indian boarder will pass through Baloch territory. Transshipment fee from this project will produce $500 million per year.
The $2.5 billion, 1,674-km Central Asia Oil Pipeline will connect Kazakhstan’s Tengez Oil Fields to Gwadar via Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Transshipment fee from this project will produce $650 million per year.
The $1.88 billion Gulf-South Asia (GUSA) pipeline project will have a 1,610-km long pipeline running offshore along Balochistan’s coastline from Qatar up to Jiwani. This project will generate $450 million per year.
US AIR BASES [Revenue: $600 million per year]
Currently, Dalbandin and Pasni air bases are leased to the US government. It is estimated that Pakistan is receiving about $250 million per year for each air base. The US forces spend about $50 million a year locally to buy fuel and other supplies for each base.
FOREIGN REMITTANCE [Revenue: $1.5 billion per year]
The 70,000 Baloch who live in Turkmenistan do not remit any funds to Balochistan. But, from the 3 million expatriate Baloch who are living primarily in the Middle East, it is estimated that only 1.5 million of them are remitting about $1,000/year each to their families in Balochistan.
TOURISM [Revenue: $150 million per year]
By having a democratic, liberal and secular government in place, Balochistan has the potential to attract global tourism to its coastal region. In 2005, over 2 million tourists traveled to Iran and Pakistan. It is safe to assume that Balochistan can attract over 200,000 tourists per year.
According to the World Tourism Organization, 698 million people traveled to a foreign country in the year 2000, spending more than $478 billion; on the average, they spent about $685 per visit. International tourism receipts combined with passenger transport currently total more than $575 billion - making tourism the world's number one export earner, ahead of automotive products, chemicals, petroleum and food.
The tourism industry generates substantial economic benefits. Tourism is one of the top five export categories for as many as 83% of countries and is a main source of foreign exchange earnings for at least 38% of countries in the world. The main positive economic impacts of tourism relate to foreign exchange earnings, contributions to government revenues, and generation of employment and business opportunities.
The Baloch nation must rise in unison and liberate Balochistan by reclaiming our honor, self-determination, and economic autonomy. The Iranians and the Pakistanis are robbing our coastal areas and natural resources, and in return they have kept us in extreme poverty and massacred our non-combatant men, women and children.
Mir Azaad Khan Baloch
Desk of The Government of Balochistan in Exile
The World Baloch Jewish Alliance Building
PO Box 5631