Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Conspiracy theories on CPEC, Balochistan


It has been reported that CIA is now exploiting private militia like the Khost Protection Force (KPF), Afghan Security Guards (ASG) and Kandahar Strike Force (KSF), etc, to hunt and kill the Taliban. These teams have remained involved in perpetrating crimes and HR violations against civilians and detainees. All such private militias are mostly from Afghan nationals but due to having special links with CIA, they are above the law in Afghanistan. The Nato forces are also using them to avoid the direct blame of HR violations in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, there is no dearth of adventurers who think they are experts on the region. Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D, is a retired US colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of ‘Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution’. His point of view expressed in the articles on Balochistan and Afghanistan is that Pakistan and Iran fuel the insurgency in Afghanistan. Also, Balochistan has strong presence of Taliban and serves as a support base for the war in Afghanistan. He believes that Taliban, madrassas and Iran-Saudi factor may trigger a Shia-Sunni war in Balochistan, which will bring a Syria like situation in Balochistan. Iran is also fueling the Baloch insurgents and there are serious differences between Iran and Pakistan.

He says China will use CPEC to acquire strategic advantage and completion of CPEC will seriously hurt the US interests. In view of the above, he says the US must stop focusing on Afghanistan’s insurgency and instead focus on separating Balochistan from Pakistan. Such efforts will yield the following results: Taliban’s alleged safe havens, training and support infrastructure in Balochistan will be eliminated. It will isolate the Taliban’s Peshawar Shura and the Haqqani network (later to be dismantled piecemeal). Afghanistan would have a reliable route to the sea and no longer be subjected to Pakistan's economic stranglehold. An embryonic transnational terrorist epicenter containing the Islamic State (ISIS) and other extremist Wahabi groups would be prevented (He opines Balochistan is likely to be center of next Shia-Sunni turf war). Also, the flow of opium and heroin originating in Afghanistan, which fuels the Taliban, other insurgent elements and the world’s illicit drug market, would be disrupted.

Not only that, the Chinese regional hegemony as represented by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the related construction of Chinese military bases on the Arabian Sea would be thwarted. The Iranian infiltration and military action in Balochistan to counter groups supported by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would be halted and reduce the likelihood of another Syria-like crisis. He says that an independent and secular Balochistan would drive a stake into the heart of Pakistan's Islamization policy and its reliance on Islamic terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy.

The author suggests a paradigm shift in his articles. His thoughts are more of conspiracy theory nature and based on speculations. While the author is not very well reputed and is not widely known in academic circles, the thoughts expressed in the articles can help understand policy thinking of military related US academia.

The views show how the US hawks in military openly suggest policy options to destabilize other countries and their allies to spread strategic chaos. The question is if US Congressman like Dana Rohrabacher can openly meet Altaf Hussain and Khan of Kalat and support the Baloch separatists, should Pakistan keep quiet?

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