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Geopolitics of Balochistan

Pakistan Today

  • It will play a central role in the New Great Game

By Dawood Kakar

Balochistan has great geopolitical significance regionally and internationally in terms of geostrategy and geo-economics. Balochistan is geopolitically situated at the heart of West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia and is stretched nearest to the northern shores of Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.

Geographically Balochistan is part of Spykman’s Rimland, and major powers need to have control of it. This can be seen in the New Great Game which is the heating economic armed competition of the USA and its NATO partners against the Republic of China, Russia and other SCO members in the resource-wealthy Central Asian region and the Indian Ocean. The New Great Game revolves around the geopolitics of Central Eurasia, where the issues related to oil and gas are the concern and priority of all states. Central Asia, being at the centre of Eurasia, is at the main focus of the New Great Game, putting the USA against China and Russia, with other players of the region like India, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan, also involved. The competition in New Great Game leads the USA to show concerns over the naval maritime expansion of China through Gwadar port in the Indian Ocean, while India is also concerned over the presence of China in the Indian Ocean. The expansion of the project of Gwadar port at the channel of the Persian Gulf is acknowledged as one of the pieces of Chinese naval expansion on the Asian and African coast which is referred as the ‘pearl necklace’, which indicates China’s progressive geopolitical impact through application of its expansion and link from the South China Sea to the Strait of Malacca, passing through the Indian Ocean, and into the Arabian sea. Balochistan has been dragged into the vortex of the worldwide issues-particularly in context of the New Great Game because the assets of rich Central Asia may remain blocked due to the fight of major powers in the Indian Ocean.

Besides, the geostrategic significance of Balochistan can be understood as being because of its geographical positioning near Iran, which has made it vital for the USA’s interests, while its connection with Afghanistan has made it a fundamental player in the global war against terrorism. The bases of Balochistan, like Turbat, Gwadar and Dalbandin, are exceptionally vital for USA if there comes any occurrence of US assault on Iran because of its alleged atomic project and other politically motivated ideological contrasts.

Gwadar is can be termed a nodal city of the New Silk Road because it connects two landlocked CARs to the energy-hungry China. Balochistan is also proposed for common gas pipelines that might convey gas from Iran and Turkmenistan to Pakistan and from there conceivably to India. So, Balochistan has vital geopolitical significance and the Pakistani government must reap the best out of it by making rational and effective decisions about it

China is interested to recreate the old Silk Road and it has succeeded in making access to Gwadar and warm waters which may help it to hold the control of the Indian Ocean. Pakistan is also broadening its horizons to expand the connections to Afghanistan through the border areas of Balochistan via Chaman to Kandahar. Afghanistan has its regional specific engagements in Balochistan by virtue of being a country that is landlocked and needs to reach the warm waters through Balochistan. The US needs to end the presence of China near the warm water of the Arabian Sea, as was done with the former USSR. The USA is anxious about the probability that Gwadar will be converted to a Chinese naval base in the time ahead and later on the US Naval bases will be close to the naval bases of China. China will be able to use this Gwadar port as an important oceanic station in the mighty Indian Ocean to have trade with India and, strategically, to check the US and Indian activities in the Ocean. Pakistan owes its geopolitical importance generally to its biggest region, Balochistan.

Balochistan is also important in the context of geo-economics as Balochistan has a tremendous amount of oil and gas reserves. As well as other minerals like coal, copper, and gold. According to the Geological Survey of Pakistan, Balochistan has got 25 trillion cubic feet of gas and 6 trillion barrels in unexplored oil resources. The aspiration was that Gwadar port would become a regional business centre for automatic movements starting from boundaries of Central Asian Republics (CARs) to rest of the world, where the vast oil and gas reserves of the CARs may be used and transported to the rest of the world utilising the Gwadar port, as it is believed that 80 per cent of the world’s such trade passes through the Indian Ocean. Gwadar is can be termed a nodal city of the New Silk Road because it connects two landlocked CARs to the energy-hungry China. Balochistan is also proposed for common gas pipelines that might convey gas from Iran and Turkmenistan to Pakistan and from there conceivably to India. So, Balochistan has vital geopolitical significance and the Pakistani government must reap the best out of it by making rational and effective decisions about it.

The writer and can be reached at daudkakar17@gmail.com

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