Home History Insurgency Factors in Balochistan (Part-II)

Insurgency Factors in Balochistan (Part-II)

Insurgency Factors in Balochistan (Part-II)
Image Courtesy: Baloch Sarmachar

The insurgencies of 1948, 1956, 1973-75 and the present unrest in Marri-Bugti and Mekran areas since 2005 where military operations resulted in huge human and property losses are the ultimate result of many factors.

Dr. Mansoor Akbar Kundi

Factors Accountable for Insurgencies/Unrest

Lack of Power Sharing

Power has been characterized as the fundamental concept in social sciences like the energy is in physics with major role in social relationship. Power is also regarded as a phenomenon of social interaction which one affects another. The question of mine and thine began as the man crawled out of his cave and decided to live in civilizations where his immediate concern was how to influence or exert influence others for doing something otherwise they would have done. The concentration and abuse of power led to the anti-thesis of power sharing that if power is not to be abused or usurped then it is must that there is a check on its use or then shared. In other words power sharing formula is solution to power abuses. The definitions of power sharing may have expanded with the advancement of political terminology but it can simply be defined as a system of governance in which all major segments of society are provided a permanent share of power. Power sharing is empowerment of the opportunity and means to effectively participate and share authority.

Power-sharing establishes comparatively an equitable balance of power, makes negotiation an attractive alternative to violence, promotes and expands citizen participation in the political process, and strengthens voter confidence in open methods of choosing government, and encourages a competitive political environment. It is believed to have reduced the risk of violent conflict by reconciling principles of self-determination and democracy in multiethnic states by allowing small groups to pursue legal political activities instead of violence. The power sharing devices promote government legitimacy and a sense of political fairness among the citizenry. Power-sharing arrangements such as allotment of quota in civil services and resource distribution experience good conflict management. The lack of power sharing over ownership distribution witnesses political and ethnic/racial conflicts.

Balochistan- News ClippingBalochistan has far lagged behind the other provinces in power sharing. Punjab is the leading province and enjoys the lion’s share. NWFP despite the politically grievances and economic problems is comparatively a privileged province by having an established educational and social structure and enjoying a sufficient share in the higher echelons of the military/bureaucratic and other organizational structure of society; and an increasing level of political maturity. Sindh may not seem that deprived. It being below par administratively and economically with an ethnic bifurcation between rural and urban has not been without enjoying a share in government. Karachi being its port city and a nerve of the economic inflow of Pakistan stands an international importance. Sindh rural has witnessed three Prime Ministers and a President and enjoys a political value under a representative system. But Balochistan indeed has found no feeling of spring in the changing political weathers since the creation of Pakistan. Balochistan has lagged behind and economic backwardness of the province and government misrule has been responsible for the emergence of Baloch question and. The Baloch question largely supported by political and financial grievances and deprivations is a strong unifying factor for Baloch nationalism.

Baloch Nationalism

Nationalism is one of the terminology being most difficult and controversial to define. There are many ways to define the term, and so are its kinds relevant to a particular situation. Breseeg in his book defines Baloch nationalism as the feeling of a group of people linked by either ethnicity or territorial bond, and the belief that the corporate interests of that group can best be protected by the control of their own state. Baloch communities across borders are highly ethnocentric and are marked by strong nationalist feelings based on demography, religion, ethnicity and sense of deprivation. Ethnocentrism is a phenomenon which is supported by a number of factors important of them is nationalism. Ethnocentrism promotes spirit of sacrifice and readiness for martyrdoms. It gives strength and support to faiths and beliefs. Ethnocentrism encourages nationalism and patriotism. It is true in case of Baloch nationalism. The term nationalism is generally used to describe two phenomena: (1) the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their national identity and (2) the actions that the members of a nation take when seeking to achieve (or sustain) self-determination. Nationalism can broadly be defined in three kinds. They are Unifying Nationalism, Ethnic Separatist Nationalism and Ongoing Patriotic Nationalism.

The roots of nationalism are stronger in Baloch area. Nationalism has been a pronounced phenomenon in Balochistan since 1947. Baloch nationalism has the elements of all three, but due to lack of power sharing and viable political institutions, it tilts towards ethnic separatist nationalism. Baloch feel humiliated at the hands of federal government which is dominated by Punjabi bureaucrats and generals. The major ingredients of the Baloch nationalism are ethnicity, cultural, history and geography attributes. But political deprivation since 1947 has added to the separatist trends and Baloch nationalism with higher sense of alienation. They, as Harrison argues, find their integrity at stake due to political and financial injustices.

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Overbearing Center and Political Grievances

Federal-provincial relations have been a scene of political and constitutional debate since the establishment of Pakistan in 1947. Pakistan which is divided into four provinces, has been dominated by Punjab, the largest province with is dominance in bureaucracy and the army. East Pakistan showed its discontent and resulted in the separation in 1970. And so are the three units of NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan over the allocation of powers between the federal and province and have raised their voices more autonomy and political safeguards. The praetorian character of Pakistan with the army ruling the country for most of the period has added to the problems of federalism. It is also due to the lack of development of democracy and representative institutions. They facilitate the good management of nationalism and mitigate sense of alienation. Democracy matters in managing nationalism because democracy presents myriad opportunities for the expression of views and public discourse on policy. In the presence of constitutional setup and division of power sharing the flames of nationalism among the people are hard to fan. But unfortunately it has not happened. Such checks and balances on the actions of government are absent in non-democratic systems. In Pakistan since 1947 for the larger period of its existence, unfortunately, it has been ruled by undemocratic forces where legitimacy to rule was drawn from authoritarianism and pseudo democratic methods rather than the legal-rational authority. It has led to a stronger role of center at the cost of small provinces’ rights, particularly Balochistan. If look deeper into all the insurgencies and military unrest, they were the ultimately result of political crises. Had there been a representative system since 1947 with political dialogue the insurgencies could have been averted, particularly the 1973-75 one which was the direct result of the dissolution of Balochistan government by Z. A. Bhutto in 1973.

Financial Grievances

The lack of financial power sharing is one of the leading factors for the Baloch discontent. Balochistan since the inception of the National Finance Commission (NFC) complaints that its financial rights have been ignored/violated at the hands of federal government. Its leaders blame the federal government that the basis of the distribution, as necessitated in the article 160 (2) of 1973 Constitution are neither vertical nor horizontal. Vertical distribution requires an adequate divisional pool of taxes to enable provinces to discharge constitutional functions autonomously and meet socio-economic targets assigned by the federal government. Horizontal when share is distributed equitably among the provinces to meet their requirements.

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The major complaint and grievance of Balochistan is that since 1974 the major criterion for the distribution of resources is based on population. Other parameters of disparity such as inverse population density, backwardness and lack of sufficient revenue collection infrastructure are not considered. Its leaders are justified in claiming that nowhere in the world under a federal form of government there is a formula where resources are divided on population basis per see. Balochistan constituting a large portion of the country’s area needed development of infrastructure on war/crisis basis with the allocation of funds on area basis which unfortunately had been denied to it in the past.

The population of the province in 2007 is shown 7,900,000 compared to 40, 00000 in 1981; it has almost doubled. The density of population is mere 12 persons per square kilometer, around 85 percent of its population is scattered in rural areas. The rural areas have been isolated and underdeveloped largely due to the lack of roads. Reference to a number of studies over the lame situation of underdevelopment and under privileged masses focus on the lack of roads as the major cause of underdevelopment

Balochistan has highest inverse population density (IPD) 18.8 compared to Sindh 1.6, NWFP 1.50, and Punjab 1. IPD is an economic parameter for equalization of provision of public services and development per capita. Thus it will have highest cost ratio due to the fact that the two parallels indicators of IPD are that per capita cost of development and providing public services increases as area decreases. Per capita cost of development and providing public services increases as population decreases.

The NFC does not redress their hardship and grievances. Having established in 1935 India Act and adopted under 1956, 1962 and 1973 Constitutions the award is a distribution of revenues between the Centre and Provinces on the basis of population in which Balochistan got very little. Balochistan received the minimum (5.11%) funds to develop the maximum of 43.6% area of the country. Under the Raisman Award implemented in 1952, Balochistan was given just 0.64 compared to the share of East Pakistan 45%, Punjab, Sindh 27%, and NWFP 12%. Under 1974 Award Pakistan got the share as 3.86% compared to Punjab 60.25%, Sindh 22.5%, and NWFP 13.39%. It negated the very principle of the distribution of the resources in article 160-3 under the award between federal and units.

Out of the ten sectors of the diversity of economic resources: coast, mineral, petrol, human, hydel, industry, forest, agricultural and tourism Balochistan has first four important ones. The gas being the important one. The gas in Balochistan was discovered in 1952. Within three year of its discovery the gas was supplied to different areas of Pakistan, particularly Punjab. In 1984 it reached Quetta but actually to the cantonment area, the seat of the 11 corps. In December 2000 in Balochistan the total number of gas connections were 112,700; the number smaller than the total connections in the Faisalabad city only.

According to a report published in 2003/4, Pakistan has 25.1 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven gas reserves, and currently produces around 0.8 Tcf a year, all of which is consumed domestically. Natural gas producers include Pakistani state-owned companies Pakistan Petroleum Ltd (PPL) and Oil and Gas Development Corporation (OGDC), as well as BP, ENI, OMV, and BHP. The largest currently productive fields are Sui in Balochistan, by far the largest at 650 million cubic feet per day (120 Mmcfd), Adhi and Kandkhot (120 Mmcfd), Mari, and Kandanwari.

The Balochistan government proposed a formula for resolving the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award. According to the new proposal, 50 percent of the NFC of a province should be based on scattered population, 10 percent on land share, 10 percent on backwardness, 10 percent on revenue collection and 10 percent on an equal basis, and 10 miscellaneous.

Balochistan justified in demanding a raise in Gas Surcharge and royalty. Balochistan being the largest producer of gas is believed to lose a huge amount of its due share every year in shape of Gas Development Surcharge (GDS) and royalty. The participant public including nationalists demand a raise in GDS. They argue that since the well-head price for Balochistan fields is low, its contribution margin, per unit of gas, to the total GDS is more than the contribution of gas fields in other provinces. To them the due share of Balochistan in total GDS is around Rs. 14.723 billion (65%) and not Rs. 4 billion budgeted in FY 04-05. The royalty on crude oil & development surcharge on natural gas, after deducting 2 percent collection charges, is transferred to the province on the basis of well-head production. It is same in case of royalty and excise duty on natural gas in accordance with Article 161 (1) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Balochistan is contributing from 53% to 65% but a share of roughly 35% in the GDS distributed between the provinces directly from the center on account of its ownership of gas.

As decided under the 1991 NFC Award, the excise duty on gas is based on production volumes. The excise duty is set at a low rate of Rs.5.30 per BTU, which was established several years ago. The royalty on gas is paid by the center as a recognition of the ownership right of the province, while the GDS is determined on the basis of the cost of exploration and the stock of assets. The royalty on gas, the official said, is fixed at the rate of 12.5% of the gas sold and valued at the well-head price.

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The Parliamentary Committee in September 2004 was formed to forward its recommendations to federal government about Balochistan. It comprised 29 members. Later on 9 more members were appointed. It was subdivided into two sub-committees to promote inter-provincial harmony and protect rights of provinces with a view to strengthen the federation (with the grievances of Balochistan in large with matters related to gas royalty, development projects, job quota, NFC Award, etc. It included 31 issues ranging from Sui gas royalty to check posts to development of Gwadar. The committee forwarded the recommendations including clearance of gas royalty arrears, revision of the concurrent list, National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, provincial autonomy and development of gas-rich areas. About the NFC Award the committee recommended that the degree of backwardness and poverty should be made foremost part of the criteria for the NFC Award. But so far no concrete results of the report.


Balochistan since independence has been a scene of insurgencies and unrest. Although the insurgencies were curbed down and subdued, but they left behind sense of frustration and alienation which was ultimately accountable for feeling of depressed nationalism amongst Baloch people. The major factors accountable f or the insurgency scenes were the lack of power sharing, Baloch nationalism, federal-province relations, and financial grievances. The involvement of the external factor cannot be ruled out. It is particular in the military unrest since 2005. Balochistan was taken like a neglected backyard without any significant development after the independence until 1970 it was raised to a province status. It was raised to a province status in 1970 under an ordinance by Yahya Khan. Our rulers’ majority of those having suffered from the crisis of legitimacy and policy integration failed to perceive its geo-strategic and political importance about which the founder of Pakistan in 1929 raised voice to in his famous Fourteen Points and continued insisting until the last days of his life in Ziarat in 1948. His two vocal demands for the province were province status and reforms better reflected in Balochistan: Case and Demand, a 50 page pamphlet written by Qazi Muhammad Isa as a future strategy for the development. It primarily focused on development of roads and promotion of literacy with allotment of quota for the people irrespective of caste and creed. Had it been truly implemented there would have been visible change of economic and political development over the years, but unfortunately it was not. (Concludes)


Courtesy: Central Asia – Biannual Research Journal published by Area Study Centre (Russia, China & Central Asia) University of Peshawar

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