Is Pakistan A Resource Rich Country?
The popular myth is that Pakistan is a very resourceful country, and that the foreign powers and their local agents do not let us exploit our resource potential. An alternate religious version is that if we build a true Islamic state , the Earth will bring out it’s hidden gold and the like.
In my childhood days, there was a myth that the Shah of Iran did not permit us oil exploration , fearing that it’s oil may flow down to Pakistan, little did we know that Iranian oil is mostly concentrated on it’s Southwestern frontier bordering Arab countries.
As a continuation of these myths, Baluch nationalists have nursed the same fallacies. They dream of huge resources which they would be able to effortlessly benefit from, but for the Punjab ‘Samraj’, which does not let us enjoy these benefits.
The painful and plain truth is that the bogey of richness in natural resources in Pakistan and even Baluchistan is far fetched and unrealistic .Here and there are some resources, some discovered and some yet to be
There is nothing on world scale. There are four components of natural resources; Land,water, minerals and natural Gas. Land are of Pakistan is very small and unevenly populated. Saudi Arabia, Iran and even Ethopia’s land area is twice than that of Pakistan; 50% of the land area is occupied by less than 10% Baluch population, which is blocking the entry of everyone to it , for good and bad reasons. Rainfall is extremely low, less than the average of India, with resultant reliance on rivers , amidst increasing threats of Indian and Afghan withdrawal from common river resources.Except for low grade copper, nothing worthwhile has been discovered. Whatever Oil and Gas was discovered is going to be finished in a decade or two. Only Thar Coal resources are there which of whose exploitation we have been postponing for one reason or the other. The Saindak copper Project has been a begging bowl. Government of Pakistan kept on losing money, and somehow managed to convince Chinese to run it and get back their investments, which they are doing.
Where are those resources?. And let me tell you, these mineral resources are being termed as a mere ‘curse’ than a blessing, as we see the fate of most of such countries in the Middle East , Africa and South America. Poverty has not gone away from Iran, Iraq or Saudi Arabia, not to talk of the poor and resourceful countries of Africa like Niger, Congo, Zaire etc.Resources or perception of these have invited coup, colonialism, war and strife. Oil rich Iraq and Nigeria are under threat of breakup. Nigeria was partitioned but got united again.Kurds of Kurdistan are on the verge of separation. In Pakistan, some Baluch nationalists have built their dreams on the myth of over blown natural resources.
On the other hand , the resource rich Europe , US, and Australia have built their societies based on an integrated combination of technology and resources.
They have and relied on exports of mineral resources. They have benefited from there Internally. Similarly Baluch and Baluchistan have a future within a united Pakistan and outside Pakistan it is only a ‘basti’ of impoverished people. Having said that let me add that our treatment of Baluch and Baluchistan has not been fair, to say the least. One after the other , military actions and campaigns have been perpetrated on them both by democratic and as well as dictatorial regimes. Less than the required attention has been given to them on their economic and social development. Why cannot (twenty brothers) be able to help one brother (5%) of the population? They have been short changed on Gas Royalties.The murder of Sardar Akbar Bugti is one such mistake.The new leaders in Pakistan, elected and non- elected, in government or out of government are sorry. They have formally apologized. A package has been announced. Let us have a new beginning, a new start, a new morning.
It is not absolutely essential to nurse grandeur and grand objectives of becoming a great and powerful nation , of conquering and subdueing one’s neighbours. In South Asia this disease is not on one side of the border .Across the border they want to be one of the world’s six powers despite having hundreds of millions of people living in hunger and extreme poverty.
It may not be a small objective or achievement if in two or three decades, we are able to provide a reasonably decent living to the bulk of our own people; 100% education, clean water, sanitation,liveable housing and adequate health system.
Let us enrich that slogan or dream of Roti , Kapra aur Makan. Let us add to it; Taleem ,Sehat.
Time passes by. When I was a boy I used to think that in 2-3 decades these objectives would be achieved. Ironically, now that today I am 60, I am hoping and arguing that the same maybe achieved in the next 2-3 decades. Will it happen? Unfortunately or fortunately, I would not be there to celebrate the success or bemoan the failure!