Natural resources: Sindh and Balochistan
THIS is in response to Zain Siddiqui’s article, ‘Take a lesson from Mongolia’ (Dawn.com, July 27). The detailed report-based article provides good enough information about the mining-sector-induced economic development in Mongolia.
The writer has tried to relate the same model and approach as a potentially useful tool to extract and exploit the mining for the economic development of Pakistan.
As a student of economics, the writer has tried his best to explain the Mongolian mining sector which has contributed largely to the economic growth of the country.
As a layman I don’t know much about the culture, society and socioeconomic conditions and gaps between the rich and the poor in Mongolia and, most importantly, about the real benefits of the mining sector-oriented economic growth model to the poor people and areas in the same case.
The article seems relevant in terms of analysing it in the context of Pakistan. The story of economic development through exploitation of natural resources in Pakistan is not covert. Especially in the context of Balochistan and Sindh, the case in point raises important questions to the ‘GDP-oriented’ economic growth analysis.
The experience of natural resource exploitation and development in the aforementioned two provinces (oil, gas, coal, gold, copper, etc) portrays unwelcome signs and resentment among civil society and the local people.
Time and again civil society, nationalist groups and local communities in both the provinces have been voicing their concerns over the ‘invisible benefits of development’ for them.
The ground realties give an entirely different story. Development through natural resource exploitation has contributed less to socioeconomic development conditions of areas and local communities in the two oil-and gas-rich provinces.The local people
in Badin, Dadu and Khairpur oil and gas fields have been crying against being neglected and not getting the benefits of the development. The same is the case in the Thar coal area where a powerful long march by civil society and local leadership was
staged from Islamkot to Mithi against the companies and authorities.
The Thar coal project area communities are scared of a massive socio-cultural disturbance due to the anticipated coal project.
In the context of political culture in Pakistan there are strong ‘visible hands’ in the form of Islamabad bureaucracy hindering the Thar coal project. The same view was expressed by scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand recently as reported in the national press about the hurdles in running the underground coal gasification project at Thar.
Secondly, the argument put up in the article seems favouring the capitalist model of development as the words ‘natural resource exploitation’ and ‘investment’ best suit and represent the capitalist mode of production which has very little to benefit the masses in the real sense.
Finally, the bottom line of the case in point is that the development should be pro-people and which best maximises the benefits for poor and marginalised people.
In its broad sense, the prime objective of the development rests in a socioeconomic change rather than citing the statistical figures in vague academic terms.