Natural Resources of Chaghi
Chaghi is the largest district of Balochistan and is located on the north west corner of Balochistan. It forms a triangular border with Afghanistan and Iran.
Chaghi District was created in 1896. Chagai district was attached to Kalat District in 1957 but was detached after two years. The Assistant Political Agent Nushki remained sub-Divisional Magistrate of Nushki Sub Division till September 1989 when an independent post of Additional Political Agent was created for the district. Very little is known about the ancient history of Chagai.
The district derives its name from “Chagai” a village on the western border of the Lora Hamun. The legend attributes the origin of the name to the numerous wells (Chahas) which are said to have formerly existed in the vicinity.
Very little is known about the ancient history of Chagai. The earliest monuments are the ruins of terraced embankments. These are found at the foot of the Ras-Koh hills; they are ascribed to the fire-worshippers, who are said to have been the inhabitants of this area more than two thousand years ago. The next traces of ancient history are the square shaped tombs in the western areas of the district, which are attributed by the local traditions to the Kianian dynasty of Iran.
The remains of the ruined forts and karezes found in different parts of the district are assigned to the Arabs. These are also sometimes attributed to the Mughals and in any case indicate the presence of a richer civilisation than is now found among the Baloch and Brahvi inhabitants of the district.
The Baloch are perhaps the oldest inhabitants of the district, who according to themselves migrated from Aleppo. The Brahvis, about whose origin there are different theories, must have moved towards the north from their original home in Kalat District and settled down in pockets with a major concentration in the Nushki area. Both the Brahvi and Baloch appear to have been firmly established in the beginning of the 16th century, as is seen from a narrative of the flight of the Mughal Emperor Hamayun along the valley of the Hilman to Seistan in 1543.
From the middle to the end of the 16th century, the district remained under the rule of the Safavid dynasty. Later it appears in history as part of the Mughal Empire and with the downfall of the Mughal power, the northern portion of the Nushki was annexed to the territories of Khan of Kalat, Mir Abdullah Khan (1716 - 1730). In 1733 Sher Khan the Baloch, Chief of Nushki, submitted to Mir Hassan, the second son of Mir Wais and the founder of the Ghilzai dynasty. Mir Hassan ruled the adjacent Pathan area now forming Quetta and Pishin districts, and compelled the Baloch and Brahvi tribes to tender their allegiance to.
A few years later, Nadir Shah sent an expedition against Nushki under Muhammad Ali Beg, who inflicted a severe defeat on the Baloch near Shorawak. In 1740 Nadir Shah conferred Nushki as a fief upon the chief of Kharan. Later it was retaken by Mir Nasir Khan, the great Brahvi ruler (1750-1793) and Nushki became a Niabat of the then Kalat State and remained so for about a century.
The advent of the British in this area commenced with the British agreement of 1878 with the Khan of Kalat. Subsequently as a result of the partial survey and definitions of the western boundary with Iran from Kuhak to Koh-i-Malik Siah and demarcation of the Afghan Baloch boundary in 1896, the western Sanjrani (present Dalbandin sub-division and Nokkundi Tehsil) became part of Kalat State.
In November, 1896 the first British Political Agent of Chagai was appointed. Nushki continued to be Niabat to Kalat State. Three years later, however the Niabat of Nushki was leased by the British from the Khan on an annual rent of Rs. 9,000. The management of the Niabat was handed over on the 1st July, 1899 to the British Government. This was done with giving all the rights and privileges, as well as full and exclusive revenue, civil and criminal jurisdiction, including all rights to levy dues and tolls. From July, 1899 to the 13th August, 1947 the district remained under the British Government. After independence in 1947 and after the declaration of Balochistan as a province in 1970, Chagai became a district within Quetta Division
The only features of archaeological interest in the district are the remains of ancient forts, karezes, dams and cupolas. Their history is not known and they are ascribed by the inhabitants indiscriminately to either the Arabs or the Mughals. In Dalbandin Tehsil there are ruins of several cupolas in the neighbourhood of Padag and Zarala.
There are several well known shrines in the district. The most important of these are the shrines of Sayyad Bala Nosh near Chagai and that of Sher Jan Agha near Keshingi. The other shrines are of Pir Sultan, Sheikh Hussain, Sayyad Khawaja Ahmad, etc. The Ziarat Ghaibi, Zinda Pir and Chil Ghazi situated in the Nushki Tehsil are also quite famous.
According to the 1998 census the population of Chagai District was 202,562, along with approximately 53,000 Afghan refugees. The population of Chagai District was estimated to be over 250,000 in 2005. Over 99% of the people of the area are Muslims. The major Baloch tribes in the district are Sherzai,Mandazai, Mohammad Hassani, Al Ahmad Mustafa As Saud, Kashani, Sanjrani, Mengal, Nothazai, and Damanis near the Iranian border.
The district lies between 27°-55' to 29°-50' north latitudes and 60°-45' to 66°-22' east longitudes. It is located in the extreme west of Pakistan and comprises the belt which lies south of the Pakistan-Afghanistan boundary, from the Sarlath Hills on the east to Koh-i-Malik Siah on the west, with a length of about 576 kilometres and an average breadth of 80 kilometres. The district is bound on the north by the desert region of Afghanistan (which lies south of the Helmand River), on the east by the Sarlath hilly range and Kalat District, on the south by Kharan District and on the west by Iran. The northern boundary of the district, which separates it from Afghanistan, was demarcated in 1896 by a joint Afghan-British Commission. The western border with Iran was demarcated by a joint Pakistan- Iran Commission in 1959. The total area of the district is 50,545 km².
on 28 May 1998, a few weeks after India's second nuclear test (Operation Shakti), Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices in the Ras Koh Hills in the Chagai district, Balochistan. This operation was named Chagai-I by Pakistan, the underground iron-steel tunnel having been long-constructed by provincial martial law administrator General Rahimuddin Khan during the 1980s.
Saindak Copper-Gold Mine is located near Saindak town in Chaghai district of Balochistan. The discovery of copper deposits at Saindak was made in the 1970s in collaboration with a Chinese engineering firm. The investment was started during the second government of Benazir Bhutto, but after the 1995 trial run, the project faltered for a number of years. In 2002, the federal government invited foreign investors to provide funding for the project and awarded the mining project to the Metallurgical Corporation of China (Ltd) for a 10-year lease, which was later extended for another five years
According to independent experts, in Balochistan two Mega Projects i.e. Saindak and Reko Diq have more potential than the combined energy resources of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Reko Diq Copper/Gold Project has an estimated 12.3 million tons of world class copper and 20.9 million ounces of gold worth around $ 125 billion US dollars.
Reko Diq project, which has been making headlines for the last one year. This project is being developed by Tethyan Copper Company Limited (joint venture between two mining giants ie Antofagasta of Chili and Barrick Gold of Canada), to produce 0.45 million tons of copper/gold concentrates every year. Terms agreed upon indicated that Pakistan Government has been deceived by these companies.
Saindak copper and gold mine, It appears that Balochistan government and federal government are maintaining confidentiality with regard to these projects, which means that there is something fishy about the whole matter. The project has probably been contracted for an estimated value of US $ 25 billion, while actual value of the material, which will be extracted, is about US $ 125 billion. The above mentioned companies plan to take all the ore abroad without processing it locally, as it contains rich contents of copper and gold.