The ‘Great Game’ and Pak­istan

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS - Sa­j­jad Shaukat

Email: saj­jad_­logic@ya­ LBalochis­tan’s OCATED on the South-West ern coast of Pak­istan,

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 South Asia, the oil-rich Mid­dle East, and oil and gas­re­sourced Cen­tral Asia has fur­ther in­creased its strate­gic sig­nif­i­cance. Be­sides, Balochis­tan’s abun­dant min­eral re­sources ir­ri­tate the eyes of the US, In­dia and Is­rael who in­tend to desta­bi­lize Pak­istan for their col­lec­tive aims, as the lat­ter is also the only nu­clear country in the Is­lamic World.

In fact, Pak­istan con­sid­ers that peace in Afghanistan is a guar­an­tee of peace in Pak­istan, there­fore, has been striv­ing for the same in ut­ter sin­cer­ity. En­e­mies of Afghanistan and Pak­istan - In­dia and the US - do not want to see peace and pros­per­ity in the re­gion. Sadly, Pak­istan’s dom­i­nant role in Afghanistan’s peace process under the Quadri­lat­eral Co­or­di­na­tion Group (QCG) has been sab­o­taged by the ill-wish­ers. Killing of the Tal­iban leader Mul­lah Akhtar Mansur by the CIA-op­er­ated drone at­tack in Balochis­tan has badly de­railed Afghan di­a­logue process and vi­o­lence is likely to surge in Afghanistan.

It seems that a dual game is on to pres­sur­ize Pak­istan to bring Afghan Tal­iban ei­ther for the di­a­logue or to take ac­tion against them. US, In­dia and Is­rael have built a hos­tile nexus for the Great Game and are pres­sur­iz­ing Pak­istan by lim­it­ing its choices. In this re­gard, trust deficit has deep­ened be­tween Pak­istan and the United States. There­fore, on June 10, this year, a high-level del­e­ga­tion of the US vis­ited Is­lam­abad and met Pak­istan’s Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Ra­heel Sharif and Ad­vi­sor to the Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif on For­eign Af­fairs Sar­taj Aziz separately.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, ex­press­ing his se­ri­ous con­cern on the US drone strike in Balochis­tan as a vi­o­la­tion of Pak­istan’s sovereignty, Gen. Ra­heel Sharif high­lighted as to how it had im­pacted the mu­tual trust and was counter-pro­duc­tive in con­sol­i­dat­ing the gains of Oper­a­tion Zarb-e-Azb against ter­ror­ists. He elab­o­rated, “All stake­hold­ers need to un­der­stand Pak­istan’s chal­lenges-in­ter-tribal link­ages and decades-old pres­ence of over three mil­lion refugees—blam­ing Pak­istan for in­sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan is un­for­tu­nate—tar­get TTP [Tehreek-iTal­iban Pak­istan] and its chief Mul­lah Fa­zlul­lah in their bases in Afghanistan— In­dian RAW and NDS [Afghan Na­tional Direc­torate of Se­cu­rity] are fo­ment­ing ter­ror­ism in Pak­istan.”

Mean­while, on June 12, 2016, Afghan se­cu­rity forces started un­pro­voked fir­ing at Torkham border cross­ing as part of the dou­ble game of the anti-Pak­istan en­ti­ties. How­ever, RAW-Mos­sad-CIA backed, the Afghan NDS is in­flict­ing harm to Pak­istan. With lat­est cap­ture of six NDS sup­ported ter­ror­ists in Balochis­tan, the num­ber of NDS as­sisted ter­ror­ists ar­rested and killed by Pak­istani In­tel­li­gence agen­cies has crossed the num­ber 126. Th­ese for­eign agen­cies are also sup­port­ing the TTP which is hid­ing in Nuris­tan and Ku­nar prov­inces of Afghanistan. Re­port­edly Mul­lah Fa­zlul­lah led TTP is be­ing pre­pared to carry out a fresh wave of ter­ror ac­tiv­i­ties inside Pak­istan, as the lat­ter is cen­tre of the Great Game.

Par­tic­u­larly, CIA, Mos­sad and RAW which are well-pen­e­trated in the ISIS and TTP, are us­ing their ter­ror­ists to desta­bi­lize Ti­betan re­gions of China, Ira­nian Sis­tan-Baluchis­tan and Pak­istan’s Balochis­tan by ar­rang­ing the sub­ver­sive ac­tiv­i­ties. In this con­nec­tion, the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) is their spe­cial tar­get. T h e long and por­ous border be­tween Pak­istan and Afghanistan is fre­quently used by hu­man and drug traf­fick­ers, crim­i­nals and ter­ror­ists. Their easy ac­cess through un­guarded por­ous border pro­vides op­por­tu­nity to mis­cre­ants to cause havoc inside Pak­istan and Afghanistan. For ef­fec­tive counter-ter­ror­ism mea­sures, strong border, con­trol man­age­ment is vi­tal at Pak-Afghan border.

It is men­tion­able that dur­ing the Mushar­raf regime when Is­lam­abad ini­ti­ated the construction of Gwadar deep-sea­port in Balochis­tan in March 2002 with Chi­nese as­sis­tance, sirens went off in the cap­i­tals of for­eign coun­tries, es­pe­cially the US, In­dia and Is­rael which took it as a threat to their global and re­gional plans. It is no­table that in re­sponse to the $46-bil­lion PakChina project of CPEC, Wash­ing­ton broadly sup­ported New Delhi and Kabul, sign­ing a deal with Iran for a trans­port cor­ri­dor, open­ing up a new route to Afghanistan via the Ira­nian port of Chaba­har. In this con­text, dur­ing his visit to Tehran, on May 23, this year, the In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi signed a deal to de­velop Iran’s Chaba­har port.

In­dia will spend $500 mil­lion on the project. Chaba­har—lo­cated about 1,800 kilo­me­tres south of Tehran—is more than just a port with an ad­join­ing free trade zone. But, CPEC is much big­ger and vi­able project than Chah­ba­har. Nev­er­the­less, the es­tab­lish­ment of CPEC be­tween deep Gwadar sea­port of Balochis­tan and the his­toric Silk Road city in west­ern re­gions-Xin­jiang of China, will con­nect Gil­git-Baltistan through Khun­jerab Pass. Bei­jing would also build an in­ter­na­tional air­port at Gwadar, while the roads in­fra­struc­ture in Gwadar would link the com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work of rest of country to fa­cil­i­tate trans­porta­tion of goods. Gwadar sea­port would con­nect the land­locked Cen­tral Asian states with rest of world. The port is likely to in­crease vol­ume of trade, bring­ing mul­ti­ple eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits to Pak­istan. It will en­able high-vol­ume cargo ves­sels to move in the ma­jor oceans, giv­ing China’s short ac­cess to the Per­sian Gulf and the In­dian Ocean.

United States, which is back­ing In­dian hege­mony in Asia to coun­ter­bal­ance China, is sup­ply­ing New Delhi lat­est weapons, arms and air­crafts. Dur­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sec­ond visit to In­dia, the US and In­dia an­nounced a break­through on a pact which would al­low Amer­i­can com­pa­nies to sup­ply New Delhi with civil­ian nu­clear tech­nol­ogy, as agreed upon in 2008.Set­ting aside the In­dian ir­re­spon­si­ble record of non-pro­lif­er­a­tion, and safety of nu­clear arms, Wash­ing­ton also pres­sur­ized the In­ter­na­tional Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an ac­cord of spe­cific safe­guards with In­dia. Amer­ica had al­ready con­tacted the NSG to grant a waiver to In­dia for start­ing civil nu­clear trade on larger scale. None­the­less, due to Balochis­tan, Pak­istan has be­come cen­tre of the Great Game. There­fore, CIA, RAW and Mos­sad have planned to ac­cel­er­ate acts of ter­ror­ism in the country. —The writer is free­lance colum­nist based in Lahore.

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