Balochistan Great Game Alarms Sirens
Posted by Dr Muhammad Faheem Belharvi
When during the Musharraf regime, Pakistan government initiated the construction of Gwadar deep-seaport in Balochistan province in March 2002 with Chinese assistance, sirens went off in the capitals of foreign countries, especially the United States, India and Israel. The US took it as a threat to its global plans, and India felt that it threatened its integrity. Israel took it as a greater threat from an Islamic country.
Located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport is close to the Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its ideal location among three key regions, South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further increased its strategic significance. Its development has shifted the Great Game of Central Asia to Pakistan. Hence, sirens still continue alarming in the foreign countries.
However, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources like gas, coal and gold, entailing Pakistan’s close ties with China pinches the eyes of the US, India, Israel and some western countries which intend to destabilize Pakistan for their collective aims. Besides, Gwadar’s development has created strategic irritations among certain powers including USA, India, Iran and Afghanistan. Chinese signatures in Gwadar are perceived as a threat to the US influence in the region by monitoring US in the Persian Gulf and Central Asian Republics. India watches Gwadar with an oblique angle, as it hinders India's influence in Iran and Afghanistan.
These hostile powers are trying to create fissures between Islamabad and Beijing so as to sabotage their strategic alliance. They are also creating differences between Pakistan and Iran. In this regard, Balochistan’s business and trade opportunities have also made it important for US, EU, Russia, China, India, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics to play the great game, while anti-Pakistan powers are secretly working to create conditions to control and influence the resource-rich zones, disregarding the compulsions of mainland integration.
If once becomes fully operational, Gwadar seaport could connect the landlocked Central Asian states with rest of the world. Being the commercial hub, the port is likely to increase volume of trade, bringing multiple economic and financial benefits to Pakistan like the Suez Canal which changed the destiny of Egypt when Israel returned it to the former. It will enable high-volume cargo vessels to move in the major oceans. Gwadar project will not only uplift the impoverished people of Balochistan by providing thousands of employment opportunities and is likely to develop whole the province by redressing their grievances. The resulting prosperity would trickle down to the Baloch people and damp the separatist sentiments.
Nevertheless, Balochistan’s Gwader project irks the eyes of India, US and Israel who have been internationalizing the Balochistan issue in accordance with their secret goals. In this respect, in connivance with the Baloch separatist leaders who have taken refuge in Switzerland, Sweden, US and London, these external elements use media, various NGOs and human rights organizations for false propaganda against Pakistan’s security agencies in relation to extrajudicial killings, mutilated bodies and the missing persons.
As regards the deteriorating situation of Balochistan and the missing persons, everyone knows that Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated outfits including another group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have been fighting for secession of the province gets logistic support from American CIA and Indian RAW—these militants kidnapped and killed many innocent people and the security personnel in the province. They also massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. Therefore, they are responsible for dumped bodies and extrajudicial killings in the province. On a number of occasions, these insurgent groups claimed responsibility for their subversive acts. The main aim behind is to discourage Beijing for the development of Gwadar port.
Unfortunately, Balochistan lacks technological prowess and economic resources to exploit its minerals and untapped resources. In this context, government of Pakistan has made considerable progress to develop Gwadar into an international port with a future plan to link it with Kashgar (China).
Observing the intentions of the hostile powers which have eyes on mineral resources of Balochistan and its significance due to geo-strategic location, during his trip to Beijing, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang signed eight agreements on July 5, 2013 in various fields. The most important one envisages the establishment of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) between deep Gwadar seaport of Balochistan and the historic Silk Road city in western regions-Xinjiang of China—connecting to Gilgit-Baltistan through Khunjerab Pass.
India is facilitating Iran to build Chah Bahar deep seaport which will neutralize due to Gwadar. Afghanistan feels to be isolated, if Gwadar-Kashgar linkage gets completed. Afghanistan also opposes development of Gwadar owing to pro-Indian policies.
Regrettably, as part of the Great Game, certain foreign entities are using Baloch dissidents and anti-Pakistan NGOs like “American Friends of Balochistan”, and individuals with hideous personal reputation like Ahmer Masti Khan-a known passive gay, to promote their agenda in Gwadar. In this context, Ahmer Masti Khan writes letters to Oman embassy in Washington seeking help of Sultan Qaboos to defeat the alleged “Pak-China Plan” to takeover Gwadar. He also distorts history that Gwadar was part of Oman, disregarding the fact that Gwadar was purchased from Oman by Pakistan in 1958 during the era of Ayub Khan.
In fact, “American Friends of Balochistan” is a Washington based NGO which works for the Indian lobby to promote dissent and provoke insurgency in Balochistan. The aim is to destabilize Balochistan and disseminate false information to the audience using social media. While, Baloch members of this NGO are those who have hideous reputation and shady character traits like Ahmer Masti Khan who is actually a passive gay, and has least self- respect. He has no association with Baloch people, as he was born in Burma and his family lived in there for a very long time. He is still living in USA and does not come to Balochistan very frequently. His real face should be shown to the loyal and noble people of Balochistan who accord high value to self-respect and dignity.
People like Ahmer Masti Khan cannot be the spokespersons for Baloch people. They are simply available for few pennies and are always on sale. Such disgraceful people must be condemned through own media.
The people of Balochistan must be educated on conflicting strategies and dynamics of the Great Game, being played in Balochistan and Gwadar by anti-Pakistan regional and international powers. They must remain calm and resist external pressures including any foreign mischief.
Media should present true historical perspective of Gwadar and Balochistan, taking reference from history in order to refute the false propaganda not only of the external elements, but also of the Baloch Sub Nationalists.
Undoubtedly, the Baloch are loyal, patriotic and respectable people with political will and inner strength to stand against any propaganda, conducted to tarnish their dignity and damage their unity. They would not allow the passive gays to exploit them and damage their reputation.
Nonetheless, Balochistan Great Game alarms sirens in foreign countries. Therefore, it is the right hour that Pakistan government must implement a well-considered plan so as to respond to the hostile powers and those lobbies which have been weakening the country and are trying to create differences between Pakistan and China with a view to negatively impact their time-tested friendship, while working against Pak-Iranian ties.(By Sajjad Shaukat)