Balochistan

The Region

Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan which spreads mainly on large parts of the geographic region of Balochistan. It is the largest province by area, constituting approximately 44% of Pakistan's total land mass, and the smallest in terms of population. Balochistan is bordered by Afghanistan to the north and north-west, Iran to the south-west, the Arabian Sea to the south, Punjab and Sindh to the east, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas to the north-east. Quetta is the capital and largest city of Balochistan.

The main ethnic groups in the province are Baloch, Pashtuns and Brahuis, and there are relatively smaller communities of Hazaras, Sindhis and other settlers, including Punjabis, Sikhs and Hindus. The name Balochistan means the "land of the Baloch" in many regional languages.

Economy

The economy of Balochistan is largely based upon the production of natural gas, coal and other minerals. Other important economic sectors include fisheries, mining, manufacturing industries, trade and other services being rendered by public and private sector organisations. Tourism in Balochistan remains limited but has increased due to the exotic appeal of the province. Limited farming in the east and fishing along the Arabian Sea coastline provide income and sustenance for the local population. Due to the tribal lifestyle of many Baloch and Brahui people, animal husbandry and trading bazaars found throughout the province are important.

Though the province remains largely underdeveloped, several major development projects, including the construction of a new deep sea port at the strategically important town of Gawadar are in progress in Balochistan. The port is projected to be the hub of an energy and trade corridor to and from China and the Central Asian republics. The Mirani Dam on the Dasht River, 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of Turbat in the Makran Division, is being built to provide water to expand agricultural land use by 35,000 km2 (14,000 sq mi) where it would otherwise be unsustainable.

Natural Resources

Balochistan's share of Pakistan's national income has historically ranged between 3.7% to 4.9%. Since 1972, Balochistan's gross income has grown in size by 270%. Outside Quetta, the resource extraction infrastructure of the province is gradually developing but still lags far behind other parts of Pakistan.

There is Chinese involvement in the nearby Saindak gold and copper mining project where deposits exist in the Chagai District in Reko Diq area. The main license is held jointly by the Government of Balochistan (25%), the rest by foreign interests Antofagasta Minerals (37.5%) and Barrick Gold (37.5%). These deposits are comparable in size to those located in Sarcheshmeh, Iran and Escondida, Chile, which are the second and the third largest known deposits of copper in the world The multinational mining companies BHP Billiton and Tethyan entered into a joint venture with the Balochistan government to extract these deposits. The potential annual copper production has been estimated to be 900,000 to 2.2 million tons.The deposits seem to be largely of porphyry rock nature. The agreements for royalty rights and ownership of these resources were reached during a period of unprecedented natural disasters, economic, social, political, and cultural unrest in Pakistan. The negotiations were widely considered to be insufficiently transparent.