Pakistan energy crisis and Balochistan — II —Surat Khan Marri - March 19, 2012

Source :\03\19\story_19-3-2012_pg3_4

If a pipeline is built to import gas from Central Asia, Iran or Qatar, it has to cross Balochistan. Now the question is, why is local Balochistan oil and gas not extracted to meet Pakistan’s life and death energy crisis?

Khattan oil would be more valuable to the railway now than it was formerly. As fuel it was worth not more than 1½ times in weight to Khost coal and so could not possibly compete, but it was mainly as a possible substitute for pitch, the agglomerate used in fuel briquette manufacture, that it is to be now considered. Borings were also commenced in 1891 at Pir Koh near Spintangi, but were abandoned after they had reached a depth of 560 feet as no signs of petroleum were discovered. Gypsum occurs in considerable quantities near Khattan and Tung near Spintangi.

Another detailed, modern, scientific seismic survey was conducted in the mid-1990s, which proved the presence of tremendous gas and oil deposits across Balochistan, including the Marri Bugti areas, near the Quetta Zargoon belt. There are proven big gas fields, very good quality and at a large scale, explored near Barkhan at Jandran in the 1970s, and only require to be linked to the Dera Ghazi Khan pipeline. Oil also has been found at Kingari District Loralai and it needs to be pumped out. In Dera Bugti near Sui three more gas fields with very big deposits; all three estimated to hold about ten trillion cubic meters, have been explored very recently. According to reports, all proven explored gas is estimated to be about 20 trillion cubic meters, whereas Pakistan requires 700 million cubic feet and is clamouring to get it from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran or Qatar.

It is also reported that the cost of imported gas either from Central Asia, Iran or Qatar would be double of local available gas in Balochistan. The important point worthy of attention in any case is that if a pipeline is built to import gas from Central Asia, Iran or Qatar, it has to cross Balochistan. Now the question is, why is the local Balochistan oil and gas not extracted to meet Pakistan’s life and death energy crisis?

Drilling at Jandran was completed in the mid-1970s, but could not be linked with the D G Khan pipeline. It is hardly a decade since the Zarkhoon gas field and Kingari oil field have been explored and drilling also completed. All gas fields in Dera Bugti area with an estimated reserve of 10 trillion cubic meters have been explored and some drilling under cover of the armed forces has been completed. Drilling in Marri Area could not be started. The main cause reportedly is said to be local Baloch resistance, maybe Pashtun in the Kingari oil field or Zarghoon gas. Previously, the government of Pakistan, in its propaganda, used to blame the tribes and tribalism for resisting development.

But recently, on Feburary 12, 2012 for the first time, security sources in a briefing as reported by the media have openly accepted that resistance in Balochistan is not tribal or regional but across the Baloch land. The revolt is led by the educated middle class.

Baloch history in Pakistan is variegated and dappled with use of force, violence and blood stains. The story of annexation is the beginning. According to the archives record, in a meeting on March 23,1948 chaired by the prime minister, attended by the defence and foreign ministers and secretaries, all the three chiefs of the armed forces briefed the meeting on the success of their forces across Balochistan, including Quetta and Kalat. On March 27, 1948, the Khan of Kalat surrendered and signed annexation papers. The April 1948 Agha Abdul Karim revolt was not limited to a single tribe. Even religious ulema and communists together were in the forefront.

The policy of use of force, violence and blood stains even today in the 21st century did not change. The army and forces deployed to force the Khan of Kalat to sign the merger papers continues. Recently the IG FC in a media briefing accepts that there are more than a thousand FC posts across Balochistan and 40 more to be set up. The army has been deployed in Marri Bugti Area and Gwadar. At Chamalang, Marri Area, a point of focus for the forces, a full brigade cantonment has been set up. Recently, the Brigadier in charge announced that his forces have cleared and set up the post of Bahlola Basti near Chamalang. So-called 20 terrorists were killed and 15 wounded captured. This does not include 300 or more bullet-riddled dead bodies of missing persons thrown in deserted places. Very interestingly, the army chief inaugurated Musa Khail Coal Mining and Loralai Marble. He publicly claimed that in civil matters the army did not have a hand. Moreover, he recently claimed that the army was not operating in Balochistan. The security sources briefing on Feb 11, 2012 indirectly contradicted the army chief’s claims and in clear words accepts the failure of establishment policies in Balochistan.

The reports observe that this security assessment about shifting trends in the insurgency comes with the warning that the “unthinkable situation” may worsen, which could further aggravate if the political leadership does not wake up to the situation. One high security official in the briefing realises, “Balochistan is no longer a local issue. It has acquired the international limelight.” Now the main question is, whose is the policy failure in Balochistan, politicians or the use of force? If at all the political leadership wakes up to the situation today, what options are left to them? Recently, moderate pro-federation, former chief minister Sardar Ataullah Mengal said that the Baloch are pushed to a position of no return. In this background, the basic question under discussion is how to cope with the energy crisis. In any case, exploration of local Balochistan resources or the pipeline have to be laid across thousand of miles of the Baloch land.


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