Byline: Syed Fazl-E-Haider
Balochistan is the country's poorest and least-developed province. The ever-neglected and discriminated masses of the province are still living in highest deprivation level and lowest development level. No foreign investors can be allured as long as the province remains in the state of turmoil. Many foreign firms have closed their operations due to the security reasons in the province. The province is, however, rich in natural resources. There are greater investment opportunities in all sectors of provincial economy.
The distinctive climatic conditions in the province provide diversity and a great variety for fruit production. Nature has bestowed Balochistan with so many natural resources and its favorable climate and various plateau of land further enhanced its importance by producing dates, cherries, apricot, pomegranate, grapes and apples. The province makes up 70 percent of Pakistan's total coastal belt.
The province offers access to new resources and markets and the prospect of more rapid growth. The province's geo-strategic location makes it the most attractive for transit traffic to the landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs). Gwadar Port would provide Afghanistan and the CARs the shortest and fastest access to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. The Port can also provide them with warehousing facilities along with transit and possibilities of import of goods. The Port and its related planned regional highway projects will help Balochistan become a world-class mining center.
For landlocked Central Asian economies, Balochistan offers enormous opportunities in oil and gas sector for foreign investors. The prevailing security environment cannot attract foreign investment in the oil and gas exploration sector and also call into question the guarantees of security for a proposed multi-billion dollar gas pipeline from Iran that would have to run through the province.
The government should open up the province for exploration and production activities to fully and efficiently exploit its gas potential. The province presently produces more than 40 percent of the primary energy of the country in the form of natural gas, coal and electricity. The EandP projects will open up the land of Balochistan converting it into a land of opportunities for foreign investors. The country needs modern technology for drilling. According to one estimate, as many as 25 blocks of oil and gas were closed and 16 blocks had been opened...