The Baloch narrative hinges on the indelible historical memories of their identity. However, their identity faces a serious crisis due to extreme human rights violations, unfair distribution of natural resources, lack of economic development and longstanding resentments among the people of Balochistan. Apart from this, the exclusion of the Baloch pertaining to mega projects has further accentuated their anxiety of being turned into a minority in their own province and soon losing their identity. Unless this resentment is resolved, the insurgency in Balochistan, even at current levels, will eat the innards of Pakistan. This was stated by Former Special Secretary, RAW and Cabinet, Government of India and author, Mr. Tilak Devasher. He was addressing a live talk on his book, ‘Pakistan: The Balochistan Conundrum’ today. The programme was organised by IAS Association, Rajasthan on their Facebook Page. He was in conversation with Literary Secretary of IAS Association, Mugdha Sinha.
He further said that Balochistan has suffered and continues to suffer systematic economic exploitation, discrimination and neglect. Though Balochistan is the richest province of Pakistan in terms of natural resources, it has been treated as a proverbial exploited colony. The ‘Sui Natural Gas’ of Balochistan has been critical to Pakistan’s economy. However, the people of Balochistan have long been deprived of their fair share of Sui gas and have failed to benefit from their own gas deposits. They only consumes 17 % gas while 83% is provided to the rest of the country. The injustice is also seen significantly in the discriminatory well-head prices on which the provinces get 12.5% royalty. So, not only have the people been denied their fair share of gas but also the royalty.
Talking about the socio-economic indicators of Balochistan in the last few decades, Mr. Devasher further said that out of the ten highest deprived districts of Pakistan nine are from Balochistan. The 13 most underfed districts are from Balochistan. Percentile of children facing severe malnourishment in Balochistan stands at 83.4%. The maternal mortality rate in Pakistan is 276 (per 100,000 live births), in Balochistan, it is – 758 per 100,000 live births which is almost three times the national average. Balochistan also suffers from high infant mortality rates with 158 out of 1,000 children dying before five years of age. It also has the highest percentage of out-of school children at 70 percent.
Later, to conclude the talk, he also answered varied questions pertaining to Balochistan.