ISLAMABAD: The Balochi-speaking population appears to have shrunk marginally in 21 districts of Balochistan over a period of 19 years, whereas no growth in population has been recorded in the nine Pashtun-majority districts.
According to the census data, the overall average growth in Balochistan was recorded at a much higher rate of 3.37 per cent compared to the national average of 2.4pc. The highest growth in population — 4.91pc — was recorded in the federal capital.
The government of Balochistan is yet to release an official reaction to the census results announced on Aug 25. There has been no word from the nationalists either.
According to the census results, the Baloch population has shrunk from 61pc to 55.6pc in the province over a period of 19 years in 21 districts where the Baloch form a majority. However, the total number of Baloch people has increased from 4 million in 1998 to 6.86m in 2017. The count does not include the population of two districts — Quetta and Sibi — where people of various ethnicities, including Baloch and Pashtun also reside.
Provincial government yet to issue an official reaction to census figures
According to the data gathered, Quetta now houses 2.275m people, or 18.4pc of the total population of Balochistan. The figure has risen dramatically since the last census in 1998, according to which Quetta had a population of 773,936 people, or 11.78pc of the total population of the province. This is a clear indicator that the growth is far more visible in the capital district compared to other districts of the province.
Sadique Balooch, chief editor of Quetta-based Balochistan Express, told Dawn that part of the reason for a decrease in the Baloch population of various districts was migration to other provinces and Afghanistan because of ongoing conflict in certain areas. He added that most of the Baloch residing in conflict-ridden areas had migrated to Punjab, Sindh and Quetta.
Mr Balooch said among the factors of growth of Quetta district’s population was the influx of Afghans as well as Baloch people from conflict areas. The editor said he was not aware of why there had been no growth in the Pashtun population of Pashtun-majority districts. He added that perhaps it was because they lived in a few areas.
The population of the nine districts, where the Pashtu-speaking population is in majority, accounts for 26pc of the total Balochistan population. This is a slight fall from 26.6pc over a period of 19 years.
The Pashtun-majority districts are Killa Abdullah, Pishin, Harnai, Ziarat, Killa Saifullah, Loralai, Musakhel, Sherani and Zhob. The total number of people living in these districts was reported to be 3.2m in 2017, which had gone up from 1.74m reported in 1998.
Sibi district also houses people from various ethnicities and accounts for 1.09pc of the total population of Balochistan in 2017, compared to 1.5pc in 1998.
The total population of Balochistan has increased from 6.565m to 12.35m over 19 years.
A senior officer of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics told Dawn that the impact of Afghan refugees was more visible in three districts — Quetta, Killa Abdullah and Pishin. He said internal migration from Dera Bugti, Sui, etc to Quetta was another reason.
However, he said that the Afghans and others would not be included in the total count once the data was finalised. “We will be in a position to show the exact data on ethnicities once it was finalised,” the officer said.
In the Pashtun districts, the highest growth rate in population was recorded at Killa Abdullah (3.97pc), while the lowest population growth rate was recorded at Musakhel district (1.16pc).
The growth pattern of other districts was: 3.58pc in Pishin, 1.24pc in Harnai, 3.67pc in Ziarat, 3.05pc in Killa Saifullah, 2.46pc in Loralai, 3.35pc in Sherani and 2.52pc in Zhob.
The average population growth in Quetta district was recorded at 5.83pc, whereas it was 1.41pc in Sibi district.
Among the Baloch-majority districts, the highest growth in population was recorded at 4.23pc in Kech district (Turbat), followed by 4.13pc in Chagai and 4.09pc in Kohlu. The lowest growth in population was recorded in Awaran district at 0.15pc and Kachhi district at 0.91pc.
The average growth rates of population in other Baloch districts are as follows: 2.93pc in Kalat, 2.54pc in Kharan, 3.49pc in Khuzdar, 3.24pc in Lasbela, 3.04pc in Mastung, 2.50pc in Washuk, 1.86pc in Gwadar, 1.60pc in Panjgur, 3.02pc in Jaffarabad, 1.62pc in Jhal Magsi, 3.69pc in Nasirabad, 1.85pc in Sohbatpur, 3.21pc in Nushki, 1.52pc in Lehri and 2.69pc in Barkhan.
Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2017