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Strategic Importance of Balochistan Mustansar Klasra

The largest province of Pakistan, Balochistan, consists of 43.6 percent of total area, least literate and has a 12.34 million (2017) million population only 6.56 percent of total population of Pakistan. Being poorest yet it provides significant share of national gas supply for industrial and domestic use, consisting of 200 coal mines that plays a significant role in industrial phase. It got the status of province after 23 years of British withdrawal in 1970. Enjoying the longest and deepest coast line of the Arabian Sea, it has gained importance among superpowers in international arena. Balochistan is considered the central hub as it plays the role of junction between South Asia, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. The province is bordered by Afghanistan to the north and north-west, Iran to the south-west, Punjab and Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to the north-east. To the south lies the Arabian Sea. Balochistan is located on the south-eastern part of the Iranian plateau. It borders the geopolitical regions of the Middle East and Southwest Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. Its geographical location has placed the otherwise desolate region in the scope of competing global interests for all of recorded history.

In the changing dynamics of global architecture, the sea politics is getting complex with more focus on commercial activities and economic prosperity. Gwadar port is the warm water and deep sea port of Pakistan. It is situated at the mouth of Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and holds 2/3 world oil reserves. Historically, it was purchased by the Pakistan in 1958 from Omani Sultanate at the cost of US $3 million. Likewise it provides the shortest route to Central Asia. Therefore, America has an eye on Gwadar for being its future “potential military base” while UAE considers it an undesirable contest. Both china and Pakistan are going to build economic corridor in Gwadar which has increases strategic importance of Gwadar China–Pakistan Economic is a collection of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan. Originally valued at $46 billion, the value of CPEC projects is now worth $62 billion. Gwadar has increased the worth of baochistan as a lot hopes of economic revolution are connected to this mega project.

Over US$1 trillion worth of natural resources have been discovered in Balochistan including, Gold, Copper, Black pearl, Oil, Valuable Stones, Coal, Chromite and Natural Gas .Simultaneously, Reko Diq is a copper and gold mine in Chaghi district of Balochistan province with a value up to $500bn. It holds about 5.9 billion tonnes of ore, making it the world’s fifth largest deposit of gold and copper. it’s also known as “Hillock of Gold”.. The decision of Supreme Court has revealed that under and around “Hillock of Gold” there exists 10 million kg copper and 370 million gram gold.

Balochistan has become the focus of global geopolitical manipulation in this region. From British rule of pre-partition to USSR cunning ambitions and now Indians American Chinese Iran Afghanistan stakes in the territory. Located in the middle of the Central, Western Southern and South-western Asia, Balochistan is always under the effects of global geo-politics.

The maritime significance and potential of port Gwadar to connect the landlocked, Afghanistan and the Central Asian states to the Indian Ocean as an international trade route and an energy transit corridor, and mineral resources have heightened geo-political competition among global powers, in the Eurasian region Balochistan provides an ideal profitable aim for global powers.. Plenty of energy resources, trade routes and maritime choke points, Balochistan has attained not only its national interest but can be more important than on international level too. This unique and valuable situation provides golden opportunity to the global powers to instigate their regional play. The world is increasingly moving towards multi-polarity and economic and military powers are growing in the Asian regions. Demand for energy supply of China, India, and other Asian countries is quickly increasing, so it is the biggest requirement of time to spread their influence over world energy resources, energy transit corridors, major land and maritime trade links.

Gwadar port being completed with the help of China who has an eye on it, owing to import of raw materials and oil from Middle East and export its materials through land corridor that would extend from Gwadar to Xinjiang province as the port is near Hormuz and China wants to access the sea for its land locked western provinces.

America being economic giant of the world would not be capable of maintaining its position within 25 to 30 years and might be supplanted by China within coming years. Therefore being part of “International Conspiracy”, her strategic position is to enter Afghanistan and Iran for maintaining its economic position by extracting minerals. That would only be possible by destabilizing the Province of Balochistan. According to “Corridor Conspiracy”, Balochistan would play key role in invasion of Persian Gulf and south Asia.

Consequently, America and its allies, India inclusively, doesn’t want Pakistan to gain these benefits by their strategic planning. To accomplish their policies, they use small powers sometime for solo role and at times for numerous ones. Today Baluchistan is divided among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Province that consists of multi linguistic and ethnic groups, their geo- political and geo-strategy are the best to evaluate the importance of state.

The resettlement of borders in the name of Greater Balochistan would definitely affect the economic development of China, Iran, India and Pakistan. United States have many times highlighted the geostrategic and geo-political significance of Balochistan and they have presented and supported the idea of free Balochistan which could serve best to secure US geopolitical and geo strategic benefits. Therefore, all the three prominent factors; the Taliban militancy, Baloch insurgency and future significance of Balochistan as an energy transit route, played a very strong role in attaining and developing serious attention of US to Balochistan.

An instable Balochistan is far more preferable to US than a stable and economically flourishing Balochistan. Balochistan is the only Province of Pakistan which shares direct border with Iran. The geographical location of Balochistan plays a very significant role in shaping the relations between Pakistan and Iran in the socio-cultural and economic perspectives. Balochistan is the only factor which can directly influence Pak-Iran relations both negatively and positively. Unfortunately, there are certain disappointing and inadequate factors which are creating confusions, doubts and stress and making Balochistan a weakening factor in Pak-Iran relations.

Balochistan plays a key role in Pak-Iran economic and social integration. The close relation between the people of both countries on the basis of many religious and cultural similarities significantly increases the economic, cultural and social communication between the people of Iran and Pakistan. The geographical location and huge mineral and energy resources of Balochistan, make this land extraordinarily important for almost all the world and specially a mark of special interest among regional and international political actors such as the US, India, former Soviet Union, UAE and Afghanistan. All these countries have one common interest in this region and an independent.

Balochistan is in high favor of their geo-strategic and geo political interests. The Gwadar port is estimated to be the focal point of an energy and trade passage to and from China and the Central Asian Republics. China has got legal right on Gwadar as it has invested a lot in this project financially and technically .China has also invested in a coastal highway to link Gwadar with Karachi. China is also involved in the Saindak gold and copper mining project in Balochistan. China and India have been engaged in several trade plans for their joint benefits but there has always been a sense of rivalry and an economic competition between the two countries So, India may not desire to see the development of Gwadar port as profitable for China as well as for Pakistan. The US involvement is also seen as a part of the “Great Power game” which is being played by global powers in Central Asia since the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

It is widely believed that the US wants to compete China and Iran through controlling the oil supply lines from the Middle East and Central Asian States and to achieve its goal, US is using its Greater Middle East plan to take apart the major Muslim states and redesign borders in the region according to its own political and economic desires and benefits. It is beleived that the US and British intelligence agencies are supporting the Baloch militants to destabilize the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and weaken the Gwadar port from becoming functional due to Chinese involvement which would definitely be a major threat to US oil and naval interests in the Gulf region.

Pakistan can germinate it’s forth leaves by demeaning revolt demonstrations and acts of brutality. The government of Pakistan has to deactivate the centripetal and centrifugal forces through strict and stern norms. For negotiations with rebellions, actions are needed rather than round table conferences. Funds to be made available, trust-deficits to be brought back, policies should be made for strong Pakistan, and not for “strong center”. Illiteracy must be counteracted by inaugurating more schools, colleges and universities. Eventually, gigantic natural resources must be urbanized in order to boost economic and social life of country, failing which, it may become a hot bet for foreign maneuverings that would result in easing their way rather than preventing them. So some effective initiatives are require from Islamabad to engage locals in main stream by promoting equality with remaining provinces. So the key of prosperous Pakistan lies in stable Baluchistan and stability in Baluchistan is not possible until unless common people over there would be treated like rest of the country.

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