Friday, November 2, 2012

Stan in the place where you don't live (Baluchistan)

I plead geographic ignorance, but I'm an American and we're all geographically ignorant.

It seems that ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union, a bunch of "-stan" countries have emerged all over the place. In truth they've been there all along, but when some of them were part of a single country, ignorant Americans like me didn't pay attention to them.

However, these countries are not limited to the area that formerly comprised the Soviet Union. Even Americans have heard of countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Today, I ran across an area with which I was unfamiliar - Baluchistan (also called Balochistan).

Gunfire attack on a bus at a petrol pump in Khuzdar area of Balochistan set off a fire on Friday, killing 18 people.

It turns out that Baluchistan is not a country in and of itself, but is a significant part of another country.

Baluchistan is the largest of all provinces of modern-day Pakistan, making up nearly two-fifths of the entire country. The enormity of its size, contrasts strikingly with its low percentage of population and its economic destitution, particularly in comparison to Punjabis, Sindhis and Pathans. The province of Balochistan accounts for 43 per cent of Pakistan's territory but is the smallest in terms of population.

Which makes Baluchistan the Pakistani equivalent of San Bernardino County. Except that Baluchistan has more valuable natural resources (or at least resources that are more coveted).

The province has sizable reserves of coal and natural gas. It is also believed that it also holds large untapped reserves of petroleum and thus has special importance in Pakistan’s energy profile. Pakistan’s economy is one of the world’s most natural gas dependent, accounting for about fifty percent of its total energy resource. Out of the proven natural gas reserves i.e. approximately 28 trillion cubic feet, about 19 trillion cubic feet that is 68% are located in Baluchistan.

Incidentally, the suffix "-stan" is derived from an ancient Persian word meaning country or land. Ironically, modern-day Iran does not have a "-stan" in its name.
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