More Urban Centres needed in Balochistan

Loralai and Chaman are ripe for development

Explore the vast and diverse landscapes of Balochistan, the largest province in southwest Pakistan. With a small population of only 12,344,408 people, this hidden gem is home to various ethnicities and welcomes Afghan refugees. While the capital city of Quetta shines as a bustling urban centre, other cities in Balochistan struggle with limited amenities and infrastructure.

Challenges like education, water scarcity, healthcare, unemployment, housing, and drainage systems plague Quetta. The overwhelmed local government faces the daunting task of meeting the needs of its residents with limited resources. The solution? Establishing more urban centres across Balochistan, offering migrants improved opportunities and distributing the load away from the crowded Quetta. Discovering the untapped potential of this remarkable province and joining the quest for a better quality of life for all.

The absence of urban centres in Balochistan hinders socio-economic development and limits opportunities for residents. This lack of investment and development leads to a stagnant economy and forces people to migrate for better prospects. To address these issues, the government should establish urban centres in various regions of Balochistan, focusing on improving infrastructure and promoting inclusive development. This will reduce migration and ensure more equitable distribution of resources in the province. As the founding father once said,

If we want to make this great state of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor” 

It is crucial to establish urban centres in various cities, like Loralai in the northeast region of Balochistan. Loralai has the potential to become a thriving urban centre due to its advantageous location. Situated at the intersection of highways, it is well-connected to Quetta (the provincial capital) and surrounding districts of Balochistan, such as Killa Saifullah, Zhob, Musakhel, Harnai, Barkhan, Ziarat and Duki.

Positive incentives should be offered to cities outside of Quetta to encourage their citizens to remain and promote development within their own cities. Moreover, the local government can contribute to the development of urban centres by enacting policies, regulations, and providing necessary resources for public services. Their involvement will enable the creation of vibrant and inclusive urban centres for the benefit of all residents.

This ideal location makes it an ideal hub for trade and transportation. Moreover, Loralai has fertile agricultural lands and a suitable climate for growing various crops. Additionally, Loralai is home to various educational institutions, such as degree colleges, technical institutes, schools, and universities.  University of Loralai and Loralai Medical College are new additions in the academic realm of the city while Balochistan Residential College (BRC) Loralai has long been the top institution of the province. The presence of these academic facilities fosters the development of a knowledgeable and skilled workforce, which in turn attracts businesses. According to the FBR report of 2020, Loralai is also the second biggest revenue generating city of Balochistan and Pakistan’s 18th biggest. If proper investment is undertaken, it can be turned into a major urban centre.

Chaman’s advantageous location on the Afghanistan border positions it to become a thriving urban centre. The extensive cross-border trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan presents a wealth of economic opportunities for the city. As a key border town, Chaman can become a central hub for imports and exports, attracting businesses and investors alike.

Additionally, the inclusion of the ITTMS project in FBR’s Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and the allocation of 480 million towards it will not only benefit the entire province but also create employment opportunities for the citizens of Balochistan. Furthermore, Chaman serves as a gateway to Central Asia through Afghanistan and Iran. It is the second largest transit station for Afghan Transit Cargo and serves as the nearest customs station to the sea ports of Karachi and Gawadar. Pakistan in June 2021 exported Rs 2.21 billion and imported Rs 1.08 billion through Chaman border, while exported $ 9.91 million to Afghanistan in the same time period. Moreover, Chaman has been designated as a special economic zone, further solidifying its potential as an urban center. The Chaman Master Plan, when implemented, will enhance the city’s urban infrastructure and attract investment.

To facilitate progress, it is imperative to address the issue of individuals migrating to Quetta and neglecting opportunities in their own cities. The government’s exclusive focus on providing facilities in Quetta has had a detrimental effect on other cities, impeding their growth. The locals of these cities exhibit a preference for investing in Quetta rather than their own cities. To address this, the government should encourage citizens to invest in their own cities and promote urbanization. This can be achieved by implementing negative incentives, highlighting the challenges of succeeding in Quetta where competition is intense, as opposed to their own cities where they can easily establish their own stake

Additionally, positive incentives should be offered to cities outside of Quetta to encourage their citizens to remain and promote development within their own cities. Moreover, the local government can contribute to the development of urban centres by enacting policies, regulations, and providing necessary resources for public services. Their involvement will enable the creation of vibrant and inclusive urban centres for the benefit of all residents.

Sadia Zahra
Sadia Zahra
Sadia Zahra is a Research Intern at Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN), Quetta. She is a graduate of Public Administration, BUITEMS. She can be contacted at [email protected] and [email protected]. She tweets @Sadia_Anjumm

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