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dimanche, 16 février 2014

Pakistani Province of Baluchistan at Cross-Roads of Geo-Political games


This aspect is related to the geographical location of Baluchistan at the maritime interface of the Western, Southern and Eastern segments of Asia alongside the Indian Ocean that further enhances its importance in facilitating global trade and energy shipments. Baluchistan thus provides a number of shortest possible land and sea route to and from the East and the West. For this very reason Baluchistan has become a ‘geo-strategic’ fulcrum of this arena of extremely heightened geo-political competition. The US sponsored idea of “Greater Baluchistan” has done Baluchistan no good. On top of all Baluchistan’s territorial link with Afghanistan and use of its territory for the facilitation of NATO supplies has made it even more vulnerable to the geo-political maneuvering of the US and its allies in the region.

The idea of “greater Baluchistan” includes not merely territorial disintegration of Pakistan alone; it also includes that of both Iran and Afghanistan. In introducing a resolution on ‘independent Baluchistan’ in the US House of Representative in 2012, the US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said that the people of Baluchistan, “currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country,” adding that they should be afforded full opportunity to choose their own status among the community of nations. This ‘moral support’ is being followed by the supply of ample foreign fundings, arms deliveries and military training. In 2001, Jane’s information group, one of the leading sources on intelligence information, reported that the RAW and MOSSAD have created five new agencies to penetrate Pakistan to target important religious figures, civil and military personnel, journalists, judges etc, and the current situation and information provided by Pakistan’s various security agencies also verifies the fact of foreign involvement in Baluchistan. Even the government of Afghanistan has been abetting the disruptive forces in igniting conflict in the region by providing territorial sanctuaries to the so-called insurgents.

The continuing Baluch struggle against “deprivation”, properly supplied by the Western fighter for the greater good have successfully spread the conflict into many zones of Baluchistan, making them virtually independent. By repeatedly highlighting and emphasizing the state of deprivation of the Baluch people, the US and its allies have been exploiting the Baluch youth that is dying out with foreign arms in its hands in an attempt to attain the much yearned after ‘national’ independence from the ‘dictatorial’ domination of the Punjab. In this context, the US Congress bill on Baluch’s right to separation and self determination, tabled in 2012, is one of the manifest examples of the deliberately designed geo-political maneuvering. That bill was and is not only a violation of the internationally recognized principle of non-intervention, but also a sort of window dressing of the US’ and its Western allies’ global agendas. In essence, it was nothing else but an attempt to give a ‘legitimate’ cover to pursue, on part of the US, the twentieth century grand objectives which include domination of the region extending from Baluchistan to Central Asia and Eurasia and to Eastern Asia by way of segmenting the entire region, thereby controlling and dominating the flow of energy to and from the Eastern, Central and Western segments of Asia through the Indian Ocean.

It is for this reason that many US policy makers have, from time to time, been emphasizing the geo-strategic significance of Baluchistan in terms of serving the “grand objectives” of the US. For example a prominent US expert on South Asian affairs, Selig Harrison, urged the White House in 2011 to contain the fast spreading influence of China in the India Ocean, “by supporting the movement for an independent Baluchistan along the Arabian Sea and working with Baluch insurgents to oust the Chinese from their budding naval base at Gwadar.” Similarly, the evidence of such an interest in disintegrating Pakistan can also be found in an article, “Blood Borders” written by a military analyst of the US, Lt. Col. Ralph Peter, who presented the idea of revision of the boundaries of the entire Middle East as per the wished of the people of locale, and further suggested the placement of the US forces in the region to “continue to fight for security from terrorism, for the prospect of democracy and for access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself.”

The US has thus been using its presence in Afghanistan, which is by default linked to the attainment of the US’ grand objectives, to play dirty game in Baluchistan too. In 2012, during a briefing to the upper house of Pakistan’s parliament, the then interior minister of Pakistan, Mr. Rehman Malik, presented a number of letters written by the Afghan government to provide funds, visas, weapons and ammunition to Brahamdagh Bugti’s followers inside Baluchistan. Only in Kandhar there were reported 24 CIA sponsored training camps which train insurgents for carrying out their militant missions inside Baluchistan; and moreover, since 2002, the CIA has been running training camps inside Baluchistan for the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) and it has considerably assisted it in establishing a ‘state within a state.’

Needless to say, the CIA’s use of mercenaries to fight covert wars is an escapable feature of the US foreign policy. The arrest of such a mercenary, Raymond Davis, in Lahore blew the lid off the extensive role CIA covert operations are playing in creating the climate of violence and instability throughout Pakistan, and more specifically in Baluchistan. The underlying purpose of such covert operations is to manipulate in favour of supporting the Baluch peoples’ right to self-determination through secession.

That is how the neo-imperial forces of the West, led by the US, have been applying the policy of divide and rule—the classic political stratagem that has not escaped the interest of the neo-colonial states. While the truth is that the location of Baluchistan at the interface of three major segments of Asia, its maritime significance because of Gwadar port, its capacity to provide the shortest possible route to the landlocked states of Afghanistan and Central Asia, its capacity to serve as an international energy transit corridor, and its own untapped numerous reservoirs of energy sources add to its significance in the current era of extremely heightened competition in and around the Indian Ocean. As such, by disintegrating Pakistan, leading to an extended redrawing of regional boundaries, the US can significantly alter regional balance of power, and can place its own military in the region in the name of ‘maintaining peace and security.’

The US, in its quest for dominating the world is showing little to no respect for human rights Despite the fact that Pakistan is a non-NATO ally of the US,  is standing in the way of the U.S. and pays a handsome price for it.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs. Exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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