Balochistan neglected after catastrophic floods

Balochistan neglected after catastrophic floods
Floods. Source: © Wolfgang Hasselnmann/Unsplash, 2021.

Finia Hilmes

Pakistan & Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

Pakistan’s largest and poorest province, Balochistan, suffers from under-development, bad governance, corruption, and a long-running insurgency (The Associated Press, 2022). The catastrophic floods that hit Pakistan in the summer of 2022 affected about 75 per cent of Balochistan’s population which amounts to the largest proportion of any province in Pakistan (The Associated Press, 2022). Nevertheless, the recovery in Balochistan has been slow and residents say that they are now paying the price of years of neglect by the local as well as central government (The Associated Press, 2022). In addition, it has been shown to be difficult for international organisations to reach devasted areas (The Associated Press, 2022). Also, the already decrepit infrastructure before the flood hit has been washed away further barring relief efforts (The Associated Press, 2022).

Balochistan is not politically or economically strong and does not have a political patron like other provinces like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a stronghold of former premier Imran Khan (The Associated Press, 2022). Balochistan is also a centre for the country’s small ethnic Baloch minority, who claim they face discrimination from the central government (The Associated Press, 2022).

In fact, People in Baluchistan still wade in waist-high water or float on rafts through the province’s fields. It is a contrast to the neighbouring province, Sindh where people used boats on submerged roads in the city of Sukkur during the height of the flooding (The Associated Press, 2022). However, pumps were brought to remove water and now there is little sign indicating that Sukkur city was ever flooded (The Associated Press, 2022). Moreover, a drainage canal close to Gandakha city, illustrates what residents say is an infrastructure that protects Sindh at the expense of Balochistan (The Associated Press, 2022). Water from Gandakha is meant to be drained toward Sindh through the canal, however only one of the canal’s five gates is open and cement seals the rest (The Associated Press, 2022). This resulted in the floodwater choking the city at one point according to locals (The Associated Press, 2022).

Furthermore, locals state that they have not seen any international organisations come to Balochistan to aid themselves resulting in a lack of effort on the organisations’ part (The Associated Press, 2022). However, due to bureaucratic obstacles, foreign NGOs are partnering with local organisations that do not need permits for their work (The Associated Press, 2022). The local organisations also state that international NGOs are afraid of travelling to the province because of security issues.

Additionally, Balochistan’s lack of social development worsens the flood disaster’s impact (The Associated Press, 2022). Poverty forces people to live on floodplains, while illiteracy prohibits them from adapting to the effects of climate change (The Associated Press, 2022).

The local politician Sana Baloch claims that the flood relief focus has been on Sindh and there is a closed-door policy for Balochistan unfairly using the insurgency as an excuse (The Associated Press, 2022). Furthermore, she stated that international organisations and groups are willing to provide aid, but they are not welcome by the federal government, meaning they are not encouraged or allowed to come to the province (The Associated Press, 2022). However, there has also been criticism of local authorities for doing little even as the crisis was getting bigger (The Associated Press, 2022).

Sources and further reading: 

The Associated Press. (2022, November 22). Insurgency, neglect hurt flood relief in Balochistan. Pakistan Today. Retrieved November 22, 2022, from