Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi
THE geopolitical and economic intrigue currently getting its clout in Balochistan fits into what is sometimes called the New Great Game being orchestrated right now by anti-Pakistan stakeholders. Obviously, for the last few decades, it remains an agenda of the international establishment to weaken the foundations of Pakistan from within by utilising all ulterior means or designs, particularly soliciting the role of non-state agents who could easily become a part of this dirty game. The case in disarray is Balochistan. A neutral case study in this connection strongly suggests that in order to counterfeit this international conspiracy being played on the Balochistan chessboard, Islamabad needs to activate a two-pronged strategy to externally neutralise the penetrating clout of foreign agencies on the one side; and to domestically mainstream the outlawed Baloch dissidents on the other.
Could the Great Game in Asia be shifting from Afghanistan to Balochistan? According to many geostrategic observers, including a former General of Pakistan’s Army, it already has — in the wake of expanding China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) trajectory, the central players, both Pakistan and China, are pre-occupied with confronting unexpected factors, including India. India’s two decades’ involvement in Balochistan has created serious implications for Pakistan national security and economic progress of Pakistan. Furthermore, this may eventually lead to permanent instability in the region. The United Nations (UN) was also provided with the dossiers of the Indian patronage to the insurgent groups in Balochistan by the Government of Pakistan regarding terrorist activities being funded and monitored by the Research of Analysis Wing (RAW) – the Indian intelligence agency.
India mischievously believes that it has had a carte blanche to meddle in Pakistan’s internal and external affairs at will-with no consequences in ipso facto. The latest tactic of proxy wars in Afghanistan and the Pakistani province of Balochistan have reached new heights in the Asian contention for power. It goes without saying that the two soft target spots for India, Karachi and Balochistan, have been usurped to an impassable extent: Karachi being the metropolitan city where a single life disrupts the normality of the complete city.
Over the long term, the CIA has had an interest in keeping the strategically important Port of Gwadar out of China’s influence. Under the former US Gen David Petraeus’s command, the CIA role has been to influence the Baloch Ajoee Lashkar, the Baloch Liberation Front, the Baloch Awami Azadi Mahaiz, the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and the Balochistan Liberation United Front all on one side and the Pakistan Army on the other. CIA-one that of becoming a mediator between the Baloch Ajoee Lashkar, the Baloch Liberation Front, the Baloch Awami Azadi Mahaiz, the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and the Balochistan Liberation United Front all on one side and the Pakistan Army on the other.
The American Congress men Rohrabacher, Gohmert and other key supporters of the alternative policy approach for Southwest Asia in 2012 advocated via Balochistan an independent Balochistan, “extending from Karachi to the Strait of Hormuz”, would help contain a rising China and an emerging Iran, provide a long-term security guarantee against China, Iran and Pakistan emerging as maritime powers, and undermine the strengthening of strategic relationships between these three potential adversaries.
Glaringly, Pakistan has the evidence of Indian involvement in efforts to destabilize Pakistan in terms of apprehension of Indian agent Kulbhushan Yadhav who himself confessed that New Delhi had been involved in terror activities in Pakistan. Another culprit who was the mastermind of Chinese consulate attack in Karachi was also residing in Afghanistan and worked on the instructions of RAW, rightly endorsed by former Indian Army Chief General Vijay Kumar Singh’s admittance that India sponsored bomb blasts in Pakistan and doled out money to the separatist elements in Balochistan.
In this context, India has been of great financial help and small arms to Baloch rebels fighting the Pakistani state. It does not take much effort from a state, even relatively weak ones let alone aspiring regional hegemons such as India, to make a substantial difference in the capabilities of a rebellion. What may amount to mere rounding errors in governments’ annual budgets for security or intelligence matters can represent substantial windfalls for ragtag rebel groups. India thus has means to interfere in Balochistan. Meanwhile, its growing presence in Afghanistan gives it a launching pad.
Irrefutably, it has become a substantial Indian motive: keeping Pakistan’s security forces off-balance, as well as providing a tit-for-tat response to Pakistani support for Kashmiri separatism. It should thus serve as little surprise when a government led by a Hindu nationalist coalition under the BJP leadership— keen to assume a more strident tone with Pakistan— is also open about its prompt sympathies for Baloch dissidents.
In 2016, the ex Home Minister Balochistan Sarfraz Bugti shed-light on the NDS’s handlers responsible for running the spies in Balochistan General Naeem Baloch, General Momin and General Malik are the handlers of the network. He elaborated that the Generals had been providing financial and logistical support to the spies with the aim of spreading chaos in Balochistan, and Pakistan as a whole. Iran should realize that she has a large Baloch population on its side of the border with Pakistan and the Indian desire of weakening Pakistan by creating independent Balochistan will cost heavy to Iran itself as the map of Greater Balochistan includes Sistan province as well. Nonetheless, In order to address this issue from both domestic and international dynamics, Islamabad needs to focus the soft power deal as recently the EU (in response to meet the challenges of the severe drought which is badly affecting large parts of southern Pakistan or back water areas,) has allocated EUR 100 000 in humanitarian funding to bring life-saving assistance to the most affected communities in the Tharparkar district in Sindh Province and Naushki district in Balochistan Province. — To be continued
—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum- analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.