Pakistan helps China steal Balochistan’s resources, says report

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Balochistan has existed as a colony of Pakistan since it was annexed by the Pakistan Army in 1948. Now, over the past few years, as Pakistan moved away from its American traditional ally and paymaster into the exploitative embrace of Asian powerhouse China, which has impoverished Balochistan even more.

Balochistan, a treasure trove of natural resources including natural gas, gold and other minerals, is being excavated and exploited by China.

This exploitation of Balochistan is being carried out by the Chinese through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh before entering Balochistan.

All this while, Balochistan continues to remain an impoverished region with a shockingly low per capita GDP of under $1,000.

Balochistan, which Pakistan’s largest province by area, is being robbed of its natural resources by an exploitative China through the CPEC which is a part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of the Chinese government.

The benefits and profits generated by the CPEC is not going to the residents of Balochistan or Pakistan, but are being garnered by Chinese companies. In Pakistan, only small portion of the military and political elite have benefited from the CPEC.

According to a report by Pakistani publication Islam Khabar, the local population of Balochistan has got little by way of employment or monetary benefits from the CPEC.

A similar situation has been observed in the border areas of China and Myanmar, where in recent years, China has been carrying out illegal mining.

This indicates the negative impact of China’s activity and its extraction of natural resources from neighbouring countries.

China is playing a major role in the exploitation of the local economy of Balochistan.

According to a report by Pakistani publication Invest Pakistan that was published on January 14, 2022, the Chinese company which mines gold, silver and copper in Pakistan’s Balochistan province had informed that despite disruptions to its operations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it had generated profit of around $75 million in 2021.

A majority of this profit generated from the exploitation of the natural resources of Balochistan are being sent back to China. Supporters of the CPEC in Pakistan claim that it has helped to fund better education, health facilities and job creation in Balochistan. However, many local Baloch people and other tribes in Balochistan have claimed that their lives have not improved much.

The reality is that Balochistan continues to remain the most impoverished and neglected province of Pakistan. The copper and gold projects being conducted by China in Saindak epitomises the tragedy that Chinese investment has brought to Balochistan while generating profits for the military and political elite of Pakistan.

Pakistan and China have signed a deal worth $350 million for the Saindak mine, which handed a 10-year lease to Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd (MCC).

According to a report by news agency ANI, details of the bilateral agreement regarding the Saindak mine reveal that 50 per cent of revenues from the mine are going to the MCC, 48 per cent to the Pakistan government, and a mere 2 per cent is reserved for the provincial government of Balochistan.

Earlier this month, the lease for the mine was extended by another 15 years, with Pakistan’s share of the revenue being increased to 53 per cent and 5 to 6.5 per cent being reserved for the Balochistan government.

According to the revised terms that were approved recently by the Cabinet Economic Coordination Committee of Pakistan, the Chinese company has also agreed to enhance rent, royalty, and social development funds to the federal government of Pakistan and the administration of Balochistan.

However, Kazim Baloch, a political activist who hails from the Chagai area of Balochistan was quoted as saying by The China Project that the region still has “features of the medieval era”.

“Mud houses, muddy and unpaved roads, a lack of potable water, poverty, deprivation, underdevelopment and backwardness still rule,” Baloch said.

Akbar Notezai, an investigative journalist from Chagai associated with Pakistan’s leading media group Dawn recently published a story which said that the jobs created for local people were “menial” and the overall situation in the region is “pitiable.”

“Despite extracting gold and copper for two decades, why has the administration not yet constructed a metalled road? There are roads that lead to the company’s sites, but many villages are left without any roads,” Notezai was quoted as saying by ANI.

Clearly, the odds have been stacked against Balochistan, for it is getting peanuts for minerals extracted from its soil. Activists regard it as unjust that Balochistan receives less than 6 per cent of the profits.

Meanwhile, Baloch separatist groups are waging a war against the state of Pakitan for an independent Balochistan, force the Chinese out of Balochistan and to put an end to the CPEC.


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