No doubt, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) worth multi-billion dollars will increase trade, economy, and prosperity, not only in both countries, but also for Middle East, Africa, and beyond. This “one belt, one road”, covering a 2,700 kilometer long route, is a huge project, which will link Gawader (Pakistan) to Kashgar (China), and China to Iran, Afghanistan, India, and beyond. This corridor will spread trade through megaprojects, like highways, motorways, energy projects, railways, seaport, and oil and gas pipelines.

Besides benefits, challenges are also a part of this project, and both countries, China and Pakistan, are mentally ready to cope with them. Balochistan, where this project will start, is itself a hindrance to both countries. Being richest in natural resources, on one hand, this fragile region is underdeveloped, lacks basic facilities, and faces deteriorating human rights conditions, the worst security situation, and geopolitical conflict, on the other hand.

Socio-political stability plays a vital role in raising the economy of the country, but the socio-political instability in the largest and least populated province, due to domestic and international factors, has brought the living standards to a nadir, through deteriorating human rights and economic conditions.

Balochistan, being a tribal area, is facing injustice, isolation, and ignorance, since the birth of Pakistan. Deprivation from basic rights created nationalist insurgents from within the tribes, who demand a separate nation and want their full authority over their natural resources. But the Pakistan State is not ready to give it up, and as a result the Baloch Sardars and Nawabs are against the State’s policies.

All those wanting their own nation are not insurgents and nor do all Baloch only belong to the Sardars and Nawabs tribe. There are common Baloch too, who are living a miserable life in deteriorating situations amidst the crossfire of insurgents, militants, and the Pakistan Military in the region.

Balochistan is economically poor and isolated. Before the discovery of the Sui Gas Field in Balochistan, the Baloch were ignored by the State. And, after the discovery of Gas, a large share of Gas began being provided to other parts of the country. The commercial and industrial business began to run on this Gas and a very small portion of Balochistan began to be provided gas, with major portions deprived. This unjust supply of Gas has created disturbance between the State and citizens. Mistrust is increasing against the State. Nationalist militants, in reaction, blew up Gas pipelines that supply Gas to other provinces and their industrial and commercial areas.

This mega project that is CPEC has brought hopes for Balochistan, but there are fears too, such as: CPEC will open doors of economic growth, but what it will bring for the common Baloch? What type of job opportunities will he get, given the literacy rate is very low and rising at a snail’s pace (not only in Baluchistan but throughout the country)? Earlier this year, state minister for education, Mr. Baligh-ur-Rehman, revealed that the literacy rate in Balochistan is 51.8%, which is low compared to other provinces. In this scenario, will this project be a good opportunity for Baloch residents? Gawadar Port is the trade gate and its residents are fishermen. What prosperity will CPEC bring for them? Will they be blessed with opportunities or will they be kicked out because of illiteracy and security threats?

Infrastructure plays a positive role in development, but is this infrastructure bringing enough prosperity for the common Baloch? How will this play out for the population across thirty-two districts of Balochistan?

CPEC will attract many investors from different regions to invest in the country and it will be a positive change. Will these investors invest in Balochistan? Has any special economic trade zone been made by the provisional government to invest therein?

If terrorism in the region increases, it will further leave the common Baloch in isolation and it cause deleterious effects on their mentality. A common Baloch is already facing human rights abuses in the form of terrorism, sectarian violence, kidnapping, forced disappearance, extrajudicial killings and other atrocities.

The CPEC is a game changer and will favor Baluchistan if everything goes smooth without hindrance caused by militants or nationalist insurgents. Such disturbance can harm the morale of other Balochs whose rights can be further violated, whose chances of employment can fall further and whose mobility can be limited to more restricted areas.

It is time for the Baloch nationalists and the higher authorities of Pakistan to bring peace to the region so that all citizens can take advantage. The Pakistani State should ensure tribal leaders that there will be equal distribution of resources, and follow through.

Proper policies should be made and special benefits should be offered to Balochistan residents. It will help them to come out of the isolation box. Everything must be clear in the documents. The missing Balochs should be brought to court and those who are innocent should be released from captivity of military.

The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC.

About the Author:
Nida Paras is Member of Progressive Youth Forum and is working on different human rights issues in Pakistan. She can be reached at:

Document ID :AHRC-ETC-001-2016
Countries : Pakistan
Date : 13-02-2017