Factors that have kept Balochistan backward– and their solutions

Balochistan was and still is facing a mammoth crisis which can be gauged through reviewing historical details of backwardness, political as well as economic. These complications have had horrific repercussions for nation building and have provoked the sense of alienation among the general masses of Balochistan. However, these problems could be resolved through some remedial measures.

Historical factors of backwardness

(a) Sardary system

The first factor responsible for the backwardness of Balochistan is its entrenchment in Sardary system/tribal chiefdom. This was further reinforced by the British, as a part of their policy and colonial strategy to establish control in India. According to the policy, the British established alliances with tribal chiefs and landed aristocracy and trained them as agents who were supposed to contain the masses as well as to ensure their support for British rule.

In this sense the British consolidated the Sardary system and feudalism in the region. A positive aspect of this system is the paternalistic role of the sardar in his clan in terms of protection of interest and settlement of disputes. On the other hand, this system retarded the pace of social mobility.

It proves to be generally resistant towards change as sardarsadopt recessive behavior to gain their personal interests. This is manifested in their opposition to the development of infrastructure, spread of education, checks against freedom of women. Their support to non-political forces is also a factor which strengthened this tradition of dominance.

(b) Colonial legacies

Unfortunately, after the creation of Pakistan, the Pakistani authorities could not rectify the sins of Sardary system. Rather through their ambivalent policies they either encouraged the sardars by giving them even more autonomy in lieu of their political support or tried to uproot the system by launching military operations. Moreover, on account of resistance put-up by the Baloch, the British deliberately excluded them from state apparatus including the military. Therefore, without taking into account these legacies cannot comprehend the real reasons of Baluchi grievances.

Unfortunately, after the creation of Pakistan, state authorities prefer to rule with this administrative mindset. For instance, a British military man has advised that “The British should leave coercion out otherwise the Baluchis will rebel”. However, on the other hand British kept Balochistan deliberately backward out of the fear of resistance.

The British perceived that less development in Balochistan would be an obstacle in change and the state borrowed, adopted and practiced the same policies. This myopic policy further augmented state grievances.

Political reasons

  • Authoritarian tendencies of the state or overdeveloped state structure

Authoritarian tendencies of state or overdeveloped state structure, described by Hamza Alvi, or hyper extended state structure, propounded by Mustafa Kamal, further made things worse and complicated. These authoritarian tendencies were the outcomes of strong central apparatus. That is also the British legacy, and the hegemonic role of center, which often described by political theorists and scholars.

Unfortunately, our authorities preferred to retain this state structure—military bureaucratic oligarchy instead of dismantling it. This phenomenon developed thinking among our elites which equated strong federation with a strong center and demands for provincial autonomy and lingual rights were suppressed.

These elements that were demanding such rights were branded as anti-state, anti-religion and anti-peace and attached with a notion of a foreign agenda. At another level this state authoritarianism further found its expressions in the form of five military operations.

Unfortunately, our political joints also preferred to continue with this strong center and plausible explanations to this mindset in that perhaps the weak center would diminish their control over political system.

(b)Politicization of ethnicity

Ethnicity poses no problem to the state as long as the diverse demands of different ethnic groups are amicably met within a federal framework. But on the other hand if the genuine demands of ethnic races are suppressed through the use of force then ethnicity becomes politicize.

Economic factors

(a) Underdevelopment

The statistics surrounding Baloch deprivation are truly appalling. According to QaiserBangali, “Eighteen out of the twenty most poverty stricken and infrastructure deprived districts in Pakistan are in Baluchistan. The share of Baluchistan in terms of infrastructure is 92%. If Quetta and Ziarat are excluded then the whole of Baluchistan would fall into the category of a highly deprived province. Moreover, the percentage of population living in higher degree depravation stands at 88%. In terms of poverty 48% are living below poverty line. Furthermore, the literacy rate is hovering around 8%, 78% Baluchistan is without electricity and 79% is without gas although gas was first discovered in Baluchistan but in spite of this fact Baluchistan has been denied off this resource.”

(b)Development of coastal line and CPEC

Furthermore, this sense of marginalization is further aggravated in the wake of development of the coastal belt of Balochistan and CPEC. As the Baloch fear that their resources would have fallen into the hands of others if the migration pattern would not be checked.

Moreover, under the umbrella of CPEC, job opportunities have been fulfilled by Chinese nationals. Preference has not been given to the local population, though it is a fact that local Baloch have not been equipped with required skills but the issue lies with the governments who neglected the need of human development.


The pluralistic solution is contingent on democracy. Because democracy always precedes pluralism; only a strong democracy gives various forms of pluralism that is political, cultural and religious. Democracy is not merely a system rather it employs a solution which provide a space for dialogue, decision making through consensus, spirit of toleration and accommodation.

Moreover, it follows such conventions, norms, and values which further prove conducive for development of strong vibrant political institutions. That is civil society, parliament, political parties and once this political institutionalization reaches the level of maturity, it then provides inbuilt checks and balances against authoritarianism, notions of personalization of powers and whimsical decision making.

The institutions such as NFC, CCI, should devise their policies to revise the proportions of financial giving.

Resource potential of Balochistan should be tapped and maximum share should be given to the locals.

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1 Comment

  1. M.Hussain says

    Very well written article mam.

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