BALKANIZATION OF PAKISTAN
SHAHID R. SIDDIQI
Re-mapping of the Muslim world is under spotlight of American strategists, working on redrawing its borders along ethnic lines and creating new political entities in the name of justice for “oppressed Muslim minorities”. That this also reflected the mindset of Bush administration was apparent from its efforts to engineer grounds for military intervention, regime-change and fragmentation in target countries. This included Pakistan.
Rising Jehadi movements, challenges to its hegemony by other emerging power centers, the economic debacle, declining limits of its power and shifting of the economic epicenter to Asia, all pointed to America’s rapid loss of power status. It, therefore, had to redefine its strategic global policy framework and pursue all options to prevent its slide from power.
American strategists believe that by fracturing national unity of Islamic states America could deny strongholds to Jehadis and choke their financial resources. They want oil rich territories like Kurdistan, Eastern Arabian Peninsula and Balochistan to be carved out and controlled by puppet regimes to secure energy resources and splinter other Muslim countries for easier micro-management. Iraq is already going through the motions. Invasion of Iran remains on the cards.
As for Pakistan, America has labeled it as unstable due to “political and economic mismanagement, divisive politics, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction” [CIA report] and cites these as causes for growing Talibanization. Some of these are clearly America’s own creation. Arguing that this might bring Islamic radicals to power, giving them control over the nukes – a nightmarish scenario for Israel, its objective is to take out the Pakistani nukes.
Although its government is at America’s beck and call, Pakistan’s army remains the stumbling block in this venture, which controls nukes and oversees political dispensation. It also resents America’s Afghan war, reluctant to step up operations against the Taliban despite American pressure because it feels this would jeopardize national security by alienating Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line, generate hostility in the sensitive border belt and distract it from meeting the main threat from India.
Suspecting sympathy for Taliban and Jehadi groups among all ranks of the Pakistan Army and the Inter Services Intelligence organization, Americans fear this to be a further set back in a war that coalition forces are set to lose in any event.
Therefore to Americans, Israelis and Indians, a truncated Pakistan comprising Punjab and perhaps Sindh, with a weak military devoid of an effective intelligence agency and without nuclear fangs, is critical. The provinces of Balochistan and North West Frontier, therefore, become targets for secession.
Col. Peters, Pentagon’s military scholar proposed the balkanization of the Middle East in his article Blood Borders. He advocated the incorporation of NWFP into Afghanistan and creation of a sovereign Free Balochistan, carved out of Baloch areas of Pakistan and Iran. Pakistani Balochistan is estimated to hold 25.1 trillion cft. of gas and 6 trillion barrels of oil.
In his article “Drawn and Quartered”, Selig Harrison of the Center of International Policy, Washington, predicted Pakistan’s break up into three sovereign entities along ethnic lines: Pashtunistan (comprising Pashtuns of NWFP and Afghanistan), Free Baluchistan (a federation comprising Sindh and Baluchistan) and Pakistan (comprising the “nuclear armed Punjabi rump state”). He cited rising nationalist sentiment in the Pashtun belt and growing disillusionment of the Pashtuns, Balochis and Sindhis with Punjab and Pakistan as the cause.
Both Peters and Harrison sing the same tune and present the doctrine that broadly reflects American foreign policy.
Balochistan also became a high priority target for India and the U.S. due to General Musharraf’s overtures towards China, seeking its strategic economic interests and presence in Balochistan to marginalize mischief making tribal chiefs. China’s presence in Baluchistan through a land corridoor from Sinkiang to its new port at Gawadar would mean its access to Indian Ocean, unacceptable both to Indians and Americans – the former perceiving this a threat to its upcoming blue water navy and the latter upset with its proximity to the Straits of Hormuz.
General Aslam Beg, Pakistan’s former Army Chief, notes in an article that the Strategic Partnership Deal between India and America has led to the creation of a joint espionage network of CIA, Mosad, MI-6, Raw and others in Afghanistan, engaged in destabilizing Pakistan and Iran, China, Russia and other Central Asian states.
According to Beg, dissidents from the tribal belt are being trained at Sarobi and Kandahar for missions inside North Western Frontier, whereas bases at Lashkargah and Nawah are arming, training and financing Balochistan Liberation Army for insurgency inside Balochistan.
In the NW Frontier Province the insurgency by a new group called Pakistani Taliban, reportedly fighting a proxy war for India and the U.S., is seriously undermining the security of the tribal belt and some settled areas of the province.
Consequently, Pakistan Army is engaged on four fronts: fighting Afghan Taliban to deny them safe heaven in Pakistan’s tribal belt and push them back into Afghanistan, engaging Pakistani Taliban in North West Frontier Province to regain lost ground in tribal and settled areas, fighting insurgents in Balochistan and facing the Indians troops amassed on Indo-Pakistan border in the wake of Mumbai attacks.
And now thanks to the pro-American Zardari Government, a serious internal security situation is developing in the country, triggered by political confrontation between Zardari and his rival politicians that has completely destabilized the country.
Altogether this is an extremely difficult situation for the Army, which is being made to stretch its limited resources in all directions.
Michel Chossudovsky, Director of Center for Research on Globalization (author of America’s “War on Terrorism”) concurs with this assessment in his article The Destabilization of Pakistan. He states “Washington’s foreign policy course is to actively promote the political fragmentation and balkanization of Pakistan as a nation”. He says: “The U.S. course consists in fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup of Pakistan.”
The U.S. initiatives to fragment the Muslim world, including Pakistan, are misguided and would prove a grave miscalculation, promising an extremely volatile and unstable geopolitical scenario. Given America’s economic and political constraints and the ability of Jehadis to successfully challenge U.S. imperialism, this could cause the situation to spiral out of control, proving counterproductive to U.S. interests worldwide and seriously undermining the regional and international security environment.
It is time for President Obama to re-think the foreign policy of his predecessor in the light of changing ground realities. Current American policy direction related to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran has every potential of creating a major flash point of serious dimensions which neither America nor the world can afford.
Shahid R. Siddiqi is a columnist. He has worked as a journalist and a broadcaster, held senior management positions in the corporate sector and has served in the Pakistan Air Force. E-mail: shahidrsiddiqi @ gmail . com
BALKANIZATION OF PAKISTAN