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Security Dynamics of Pakistan’s Baluchistan

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Baluchistan’s strategic importance is in perpetuum. Historically, this region served as the cross road between the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia. However, currently, Baluchistan finds itself in the midst of numerous power struggles for the purpose of profiting from its riches. This includes not only international powers, such as the USA and China, but regional powers like India and Iran too. Additionally, jihadist organizations, such as, Quetta Shura and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, as well as, Baloch National Parties are also involved. Although this proves and adds up to the strategic aspects of Baluchistan, it also make the area prone to more threats due to clash of interests between these stakeholders. As a result, lack of security prevails in Baluchistan. In fact, the conflicts can be divided into categories; namely, religious conflicts, sectarian conflicts and ethnic conflicts.

To begin, religious conflicts and the creation of extremist organizations play a major role in the deteriorating security in the province of Baluchistan. The soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 had several regional implications. Even though the mujahedeen were primarily created and situated in Afghanistan, their essence was also felt in the Pashtun dominating northern belt of the Baluchistan. This was done in order to resent and prevent the soviet influence into Pakistan. Nonetheless, the madrasas continued to operate even after the soviet exit from Afghanistan. In fact, they served as a breeding ground for Afghan terrorists. Formation of organizations; such as, the Quetta Shura and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan increased the security hazards of the area. Mainly because, Baluchistan served as an excellent hiding place for the Afghan terrorists; resulting in, terrorism and Pakistani recruits into the Afghani operations.

Furthermore, sectarian divide serves as another threat to the security of Baluchistan, as certain sects are targeted based on their religious identity. Causing them to feel precarious in their own homeland. Specifically, the Shia minority group known as the “Harzaras” are targeted by an organization named Lashkar e Jhangvi. The ideology behind its creation is to transform Pakistan into a Sunni state by violent means. Meaning, they want a homogenous Sunni state to prevail in Pakistan, which threatens the life of Shia minority groups residing in Baluchistan.

In fact, the sectarian divide has also resulted in resentment between Iran and Pakistan, threatening the security of bordering Baluchistan. During the War on Terror the USA worked against the interests of Iran in order to destabilize it. Thus, the USA supported the organization named Jandullah (also known as Iranian Peoples Resistance movement). The organization aimed to support the Baloch minority in Iran and stop their repression. As a result, Jandullah has been behind several killings of the Iran Revolutionary Guards. Consequently, the government of Iran had strong reactions against this. Due to which Pakistan had to turn Abel Malik Rigi over to Iran, as he was behind the planning of these attacks. This was done in order to prevent conflicts between both nations and the threats to Baluchistan’s security.

Moreover, Baluchistan is also home to several ethnic conflicts, which also challenge the security dynamics of the area. Since the very beginning the Balochi’s apposed their entry into Pakistan, as he Khanate of Kalat was a separate princely state. As a result, the Baloch insurgency movements have been carried out in 1948,1958,1960,1973,1977 and 2002 to present day. The present day insurgency is stronger than ever, as the Baloch youth have joined the Baloch Liberation Army. Together, they have attacked several local government equipment’s, gas pipelines and have started ethnic killing targeting the non – Balochi’s living in Baluchistan. Adding on, there also an ethnic divide between the Pashtuns and Balochi’s. Originally, the Pashtuns and Balochis fell under the same political party known the National Awami Party. However, the party was unresponsive to the Baloch insurgency in 1970, resulting in clashes and resentments. Additionally, clashes based on the creation of one Pashtun united also arose, which aimed to join the Pashtun Baluchistan with KPK. As, the Pashtuns felt that they were not given equal shares in the blanch provincial services.

Moving on, Baluchistan is abundant with resources and economic potential. It has access to a 760 km sea coast, known as Gwadar, which has the potential of becoming a shipping route in global trade. At the moment, Pakistan has signed an agreement with China to form road, rail, air and pipelines to Gwadar with China and Central Asian Republics. However, the Balochi’s feel that they are a non-participant in the operation and management of the port, as it is run by the federal government. Furthermore, they also fear that it will attract more Punjabis, Sikhs and Pashtuns in the region for jobs. Baluchistan is also important in terms of gas supply nexus, as the gas pipelines pass through this region. Namely, the Iran- Pakistan- India pipeline and Turkmenistan- Afghanistan- India pipeline. Moreover, the region also holds extensive deposits of gold and copper in Chagai, that the Techyan Copper Company was interested in mining but the Baluchistan mining committee refused to provide access. As a result, 200,000 tones of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold remain untouched. Hence, the Baloch ethnic and political conflicts have prevented the province from prevailing, which impacts the economic security of the region.

In my opinion, Baluchistan is a land with immense potential. It is a multi-ethnic and multi- religious land, which is rich with resources. I believe that, Baluchistan should focus more on unification and embrace their heterogeneous society, instead of prevailing in ethic and sect based conflicts. As, they only challenge the security dynamics of the area. Adding on, the federal as well as provincial government needs to take actions against religious madrassas, and open more schools and universities instead. In this manner, individuals will become practical Muslims rather than extremists. Furthermore, the re-sources; such as, copper and gold reserves should be utilized in order to improve the economy of Baluchistan, and the federal government should more readily involve the Balochi’s in the CPEC project. As a result, the security aspects of Baluchistan will improve, and it will become a prevailing society.

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Defense

The Proxy War of Libya: Unravelling the Complexities

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The African continent has been infamous for its desolate conditions and impoverished lifestyle for years. The violence has not spared the region either since the extremely unstable Middle-East has set the vendetta throughout the region, verging Africa in the east. Whether it comes to the spreading influence of ISIS under the flag of Boko Haram; a terrorist organisation operating in Chad and North-eastern Nigeria, or the rampant corruption scandals and ream of military cops in Zimbabwe, the region rivals the instability of its eastern neighbour. However, one conflict stands out in Northern Africa, in terms of high-stake involvement of foreign powers and policies that have riven the country, not unlike Syria in the Middle-East. Libya is one instance in Africa that has faced the civil war for almost a decade yet involves not only local powers but is also a focal point that has caused the NATO powers to be at odds.

Libya, officially recognised as the ‘State of Libya’, is a war-torn country in the Northern periphery of the African continent. The country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the North, Egypt lies to its East and Sudan and Tunisia border in the Southeast and Northwest respectively. Apparent from the topography, Libya stands as an epicentre to the countries ridden with conflicts, stands the ground that was the central root of the infamous Arab Spring uprisings taking a rebellious storm right off its borders in Tunisia back in 2011. While the NATO-led campaign garnered success in overthrowing the notorious dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, and thus bringing the draconian regime to an end, it failed to account for the brewing rebels and militias in pockets throughout the state of Libya.

Over the following years, weaponry and ammunition was widely pervaded across the region in spite of strict embargo placed. The pilling artillery and unregulated rebels cycled the instability in the country leading to the successive governments to fail and eventually split the country in two dominant positions: The UN-recognised Government National Accord (GNA), led by Tripoli-based leader and prime minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by the tailing ally and successor to Gaddafi, General Khalifa Haftar.

While both GNA and LNA vied for the control on Libya, foreign powers involved rather similar to the labyrinth of stakes in Syria, each state split over the side supporting their part of the story and ultimately serving their arching purpose of interference in the region. Despite of the ruling regime of Al-Sarraj since the controversial election win of GNA in 2016, Haftar-led LNA controls an expansive territory and has been launching offensive attacks against the GNA alliance. GNA enjoys the support of US, Turkey, Qatar and Italy; each serving either ideological support or military backing to secure the elected government of Libya. Meanwhile, LNA is backed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. While the western powers see GNA as an economically stabilising solution to the Libyan crisis, Russia and France eye Haftar as a key ally to expand influence in the African region and reap control of the oil-rich resources under control of Haftar’s troops in the oil-crescent territory.

The Turkish regime, on the other hand, eye Libya as a direct answer to the Russian influence in the Syrian war that has been pushing the Kurdish alliance stronger along and within the southern borders of Turkey. This has led to recent clashes and direct escalation in the proxy war waged in Syria. Turkey plans to incentivise the leveraging position against Russia in Libya by deploying military advisory to Tripoli to strengthen their position against the Russian-backed Haftar to ultimately deter the alliance from spreading far in the African region.

The power split in Libya was exacerbated in 2017 following the Gulf crisis that led to the boycott of Qatar by the Arab quartet led by Saudi Arabia. Libya stood as a battle ground for both strategic and military positions to one up the other alliance in external power games while the internal matters of Libya are long forgotten and population left clueless and desperate for welfare. Since then, the vested interests in Libya have side-lined yet the peace process has been encouraged by both UN and Merkel-led ‘Berlin process’ in support to the UN efforts to restore peace in Libya. However, the strained relations and foreign demarcation is still apparent even though no escalation has been in action for months.

Now the ceasefires have been in talks for a while and except for a few skirmishes, the powers have been curbed since June 2020. The silence could imply room for diplomatic efforts to push a much-awaited resolve to this complex proxy war. With the recent turn of events in the global political canvas, wheels of the betterment might turn in favour of Libya. Saudi Arabia has recently joined hands with Qatar, opening all borders to the estranged ally and resuming diplomatic relations. Turkey is eying the coveted spot in the European Union since the UK exit. The US in redefining its policies under the revitalising administration of Joseph Biden while Russia deals with the tensed relations with the Gulf since the oil price war shattered the mutual understanding shared for years. The core players of the Libyan Proxy war are dormant and may remain passive due to external complexities to handle. Yet, with regional powers like Egypt threatening invasions in Libya and both GNA and LNA showing no interest in negotiation, a conclusive end to the Libyan crisis is still farfetched.

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Defense

Pakistan Army’s Ranking improved

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According to data issued by the group on its official website, Pakistan Army has been ranked the 10th most powerful in the world out of 133 countries on the Global Firepower index 2021.Especially the Special Services Group (SSG) is among the best in the world.  Just behind; 1- United States PwrIndx: 0.0721,  2- Russia PwrIndx: 0.0796, 3- China PwrIndx: 0.0858, 4- India PwrIndx: 0.1214, 5- Japan PwrIndx: 0.1435, 6- South Korea PwrIndx: 0.1621, 7- France PwrIndx: 0.1691, 8- United Kingdom PwrIndx: 0.2008, 9- Brazil PwrIndx: 0.2037, 10- Pakistan PwrIndx: 0.2083.

Global Firepower (GFP) list relies on more than 50 factors to determine a nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.

Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. In the form of bonuses and penalties, special modifiers are applied to further refine the annual list. Color arrows indicate a year-over-year trend comparison.

The geopolitical environment, especially the regional security situation, is quite hostile. Pakistan is bordering India, a typical adversary and has not accepted Pakistan’s independence from the core of heart, and always trying to damage Pakistan. The Kashmir issue is a long standing issue between the two rivals. On the other hand, the Afghan situation is a permanent security threat for Pakistan. Bordering Iran means always facing a danger of aggression from the US or Israel on Iran, resulting in vulnerabilities in Pakistan. The Middle East is a hot burning region and posing instability in the region. The growing tension between China and the US is also a source of a major headache for Pakistan.

Under such a scenario, Pakistan has to be very conscious regarding its security and sovereignty. Although Pakistan’s ailing economy is not supporting its defense needs, it may not compromise strategic issues for its survival. Pakistan focuses on the quality of its forces instead of quantity. The tough training makes a real difference—the utilization of Science and Technology-enabled Pakistan to maintain its supremacy.

Pakistan is situated at a crucial location – the entrance point to the oil-rich Arabian Gulf is just on the major trading route for energy. Pakistan is at the conjunction of Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and China. Pakistan is a pivotal state and always focus of world powers.

During the cold war era, Pakistan sided with the US and protected the region’s American interests. The US military establishment knows well that as long as Pakistan stands with the US, it can achieve all its strategic goals in the region. However, It was the American choice to give more importance to India and ignore Pakistan.

Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and struggling for the promotion of peace globally. Pakistan always raises its voice at the UN and other international forums for oppressed ones and against any injustice. Pakistan. In the history of seven decades, Pakistan was never involved in any aggression against any country. Pakistan’s official stance is, “We are partner for peace with any country, any nation, or individuals.” Pakistan is a partner and supporter of any peace-initiative in any part of the world. 

However, Pakistan is always prepared to protect its territorial integrity and will not allow any aggressor to harm our sovereignty at any cost. Pakistan is determined for its independence and geographical integrity.

Pakistan is no threat to any country or nation. Neither have any intention of expansion. But always ready to give a tough time to any aggressor.

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Defense

Israel continues its air strikes against Syria after Biden’s inauguration: What’s next?

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A family of four, including two children, died as a result of an alleged Israeli air strike on Hama in northwestern Syria on Friday, January 22, Syrian media said. In addition, four people were injured and three civilian houses were destroyed.

According to a military source quoted by Syrian outlets, Israel launched an air strike at 4 a.m. on Friday from the direction of Lebanese city of Tripoli against some targets on the outskirts of Hama city.

“Syrian air defense systems confronted an Israeli air aggression and shot down most of the hostile missiles,” the source said.

The Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that there were loud sounds of explosions in the area.

In turn, the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on alleged strikes resulted in the death of Syrian citizens.

Over the past time, Israel significantly stepped up its aerial bombardment. This incident was the fifth in a series of Israeli air attacks on targets in Syria in the past month and the first after the inauguration of the U.S. President Joe Biden. Foreign analysts and military experts said that Tel Aviv intensified air strikes on Syria, taking advantage of the vacuum of power in the United States on the eve of Biden taking office as president.

While the Donald Trump administration turned a blind eye on such aggression, a change of power in the United States could remarkably limit Israel in conducting of military operations against Syria and Iran-affiliated armed groups located there. As it was stated during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden intends to pursue a more conciliatory foreign policy towards Iran. In particular, he unequivocally advocated the resumption of the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In this regard, Tel Aviv’s unilateral actions against Iranian interests in Syria could harm Washington’s plans to reduce tensions with Tehran.

By continuing air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Israel obviously sent a massage to the United States that Tel Aviv will consistently run anti-Iran policy, even if it will be in conflict with the interests of the Joe Biden administration. On the other hand, such Israeli behavior threatens to worsen relations with the United States, its main ally.

In the nearest future, the US reaction on the Israeli belligerent approach toward Iran will likely determine whether the relations between Tehran, Tel Aviv and Washington will get better or the escalation will continue.

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