Natural Resource Allocation in Balochistan and NWFP: Reasons for Discontent(W-111)

Natural Resource Allocation in Balochistan and NWFP: Reasons for Discontent(W-111)

Publication details

  • Sunday | 01 Feb, 2009
  • Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Babar Shahbaz, Meezan Zahra
  • Working Papers
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Meezan Z. Khwaja, Abid Q. Suleriand Babar ShahbazWorking November 2009  

The two provinces of Pakistan where there is much contestation over the access and benefit sharing of natural resources are Balochistan and North West Frontier Province (NWFP).  The key issue is the underlying relationship between natural resources and conflicts, the latter often emerging as a result of unequal access and benefit sharing to the former. The central thesis of this paper is that the natural gas royalty issue in Balochistan (Western Province of Pakistan) and the water royalty issue in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) have not been granted adequate attention at the federal level in Pakistan leading to what can be called the politics of discontent and the fuelling of separatist nationalist movements gradually resorting to militancy in the provinces from which these natural resources are captured. Greater provincial autonomy that partly translates into uncontested access to benefits accruing from their natural resources has been the demand of major political parties (that are termed as nationalist parties in local context) in Balochistan and NWFP and the issue of royalties plays an important role in electoral politics in these provinces.

 

Natural resource based political conflicts are not only unique to Pakistan, but are now quite visible in many developing and transition countries and this topic has also caught the interest of development researchers and political policy analysts.[1],[2] Various root causes of resource related conflicts have been documented in the literature. Some of these are for example, scarcity of natural resources[3],[4], access to, and entitlements for these resources[5], quest for sustaining national energy needs by the state,[6] unclear and inequitable policy, population growth, vested political interests, distrust between different actors[7], unequal power relations, and unjust resource sharing/distribution paradigm[8]. Development researchers and practitioners agree that, for deeper understanding of resource based conflicts, a thorough analysis of people’s reliance on the resource[9] and historical perspective of the access to and command over resources in the context of poverty and inequality is needed.5 On these lines, this paper presents and explores the link between the struggle for access to natural resources by the state, poverty and local resistance in Pakistan. This paper specifically discusses how political instability or armed conflict result from, and/or are exacerbated by, competition for natural resources. We focus on examples from Balochistan province (over natural gas royalty issue) and the North West Frontier Province (over water royalty issue).


[1] Nie, M. (2003) “Drivers of Natural Resource-based Political Conflicts,” Policy Sciences, 36, pp. 307-341.

[2] Mukherji, M. (2006) “Political Ecology of Groundwater: The Contrasting Case of Water-Abundant West Bengal and Water-scarce Gujarat, India,” Hydrogeology Journal, 14, pp. 392–406.

[3] Brown, K. (Jan. 1998) “The Political Ecology of Biodiversity, Conservation and Development in Nepal's Terai: Confused Meanings, Means and Ends,” Ecological Economics, 24(1), pp.73-87.

[4] Turner, M. D. (Sept. 2004) “Political Ecology and the Moral Dimensions of “Resource Conflicts”: The Case of Farmer–Herder Conflicts in the Sahel,” Political Geography, 23(7).

[5] Moore, DS. (Oct. 1993) “Contesting Terrain in Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands: Political Ecology, Ethnography and Peasant Resource Struggles,” Economic Geography, vol. 69, no. 4, Environment and Development, Part 2, pp. 380-401.

[6] Nie, M. (2003) “Drivers of Natural Resource-based Political Conflicts,” Policy Sciences, 36, pp. 307-341.

[7] Shahbaz B. et al. (2008) “Trees, Trust and the State: Analysis of Participatory Forest Governance in Pakistan and Tanzania,” International J. Development, 20, pp. 641-653.

[8] Ahmed, Iftikhar et al. (2007) “National Finance Commission Awards in Pakistan: A Historical Perspective,” PIDE Working Paper 33, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad, Pakistan.

[9] Twyman, C. (2001) “Natural Resource Use and Livelihoods,” Economic Geography, vol. 69, no. 4, Environment and Development, Part 2 (Oct., 1993), pp. 380-401 and “Botswana's Wildlife Management Areas,” Applied Geography, 21(1), January 2001, pp. 45-68.