November 19, 2017

Balochistan is a strategic center of gravity in South Asia

Balochistan is a strategic center of gravity in South Asia

by LAWRENCE SELLIN, PHD November 19, 2017

It seems like all the players in the South Asian power game think Balochistan, Pakistan's southwest province on the Arabian Sea, is important - except the United States.

For the sake of argument, imagine that Balochistan reverts to its previous condition as an independent and secular state before it was forcibly incorporated into Pakistan or, more simply, is a blank space on the map.

Here are a few things that would change.

-        The single most important Taliban safe haven, training and support infrastructure would be eliminated, isolating the Taliban's Peshawar Shura and the Haqqani Network to be dismantled piecemeal.

-        Afghanistan would have a reliable route to the sea and no longer be subjected to Pakistan's economic stranglehold.

-        An embryonic transnational terrorist epicenter containing the Islamic State (ISIS) and other extremist Wahhabi groups would be prevented.

-        The flow of opium and heroin originating in Afghanistan, which fuels the Taliban, other insurgent elements and the world's illicit drug market, would be disrupted.

-        Chinese regional hegemony as represented by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the related construction of Chinese military bases on the Arabian Sea would be thwarted.

-        Iranian infiltration and military action in Balochistan to counter groups supported by Pakistan and Saudi Arabian would be halted and reduce the likelihood of another Syria-like crisis.

-        An independent and secular Balochistan would drive a stake into the heart of Pakistan's Islamization policy and its reliance on Islamic terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy.


Two questions arise from those speculations.

Why is the U.S. still fighting a war in Afghanistan under rules of engagement determined by Pakistan?

Why is the U.S. not exploiting opportunities to influence the strategic conditions in South Asia that might favorable affect the outcome in Afghanistan and future American influence in the region?

The ugly truth is that, lacking any new ideas or alternative approaches, the counterinsurgency and nation-building program in Afghanistan remains on automatic pilot, where everyone is being reassured that everything is going according to plan and that "progress is being made."

Within the military bureaucracy, the tendency to give and accept happy talk is pervasive. Negative views can only be expressed as whispers in private conversations. Public criticism is suicide and, contrary to popular belief, changing the system from within is at best serendipity or at worst urban myth. In a system highly resistant to change, innovative thinking can be a risky proposition.

Military careerism fosters the development of political correctness, a finely-tuned sense of risk aversion, and a laissez-faire attitude toward demonstrable progress, where the appearance, rather than the substance of success, is a satisfactory outcome. The longer you are in such an environment, the more the bureaucracy can shape your thinking and behavior. You become a stakeholder in maintaining the status quo.

Current U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is not designed to win, but not to lose, until a graceful exit can be achieved.  Even if a long-term presence could be sustained, it is not a viable strategy when Pakistan determines what is sustainable.

The time is long overdue to take a serious, comprehensive look at the manner in which the war in Afghanistan is being conducted, whether the continued and exclusive pursuit of a yet unsuccessful 16-year-old strategy is, in actuality, suppressing our options and setting us up for future failure.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of "Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution ". He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com.

Quote of the day: On Baloch Nawabs and Sardars

On Baloch Sardars, Nawabs' AKA Feudal lords

Just like Jinnah was secular, our feudal lords are guerrilla leaders. All fake. For example Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri never behaved nor claimed to be a guerrilla leader. Marris did produce some fine guerrilla leaders like Sher Mohammad and Mir Hazar Khan Ramkhani and scores of less popular. This business of feudal lords posing as guerrilla leaders started after the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti.
If indeed they are guerrilla leaders their rightful place is the mountains of Balochistan not the posh mansions of the West.They are playing Russian roulette by staying in the West and calling themselves Sarmachars in Chief and belittling the contributions of others in the West.

Ahmar Mastikhan

CHINA ENDORSES BNF STAND ON DIAMAR-BHASHA DAM

CHINA ENDORSES BNF STAND ON DIAMAR-BHASHA DAM

China place conditions including ownership of the mega project. BNF appreciate China’s decision in this regard.

Pakistan Water Resources Secretary Shumail Khawaja said that Pakistan decided to take the dam project off the table, just before the 7th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting with China, which was scheduled for November 21st in Islamabad. Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Muzamil Hussain said the Chinese conditions were about taking ownership of the project.

It should be noted that BNF had also written letters to World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other world organizations about the Diamar-Bhasha dam, which is the sole property of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. The administration of Pakistan has no legitimacy over Gilgit-Baltistan neither at international level nor at Pakistan level. Gilgit-Baltistan is UN recognized disputed region and Pakistan’s own constitution as well as its Supreme Court do recognize the disputed nature of this part of the world. It is the success of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan whose land had been snatched by Pakistani occupation regime, by force. The people of Diamer and particularly Chilas must feel happy for this success, because their protests and sacrifices against this dam project gained fruits. Pakistani occupation regime tried to oppress the struggle by firing at the peaceful demonstrators in Chilas and killing them.

BNF had demanded that the ownership of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan must be recognized before the international community, the administrative and financial matters of this Diamer-Bhasha dam must be given to the owners (Diamer and rest Gilgit-Baltistan) and free electricity should be given to Gilgit- Baltistan.

 

The people of Balawaristan (Pakistan occupied Gilgit-Baltistan) should understand that it is only Pakistan which does not recognizes their right of ownership over their lands including the area of Diamar-Basha dam, not any other country. It is Pakistan which snatched their right of self-determination in the UNCIP, by limiting them to vote either to Pakistan or India not for their freedom. As per UNCIP resolutions of 5th January 1949 and 28th April 1949 Gilgit-Baltistan and rest of Jammu & Kashmir can vote either to Pakistan or India.

It must be clear to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan that Pakistan has increased its forces thousand fold after 28th April 1949 instead of fulfilling its UNCIP obligations to withdraw its civilians and forces from Gilgit-Baltistan within 3 months.

It is Pakistan which has abolished the indigenous Rajgi system and replaced it by imposing its own citizens, changed the demography by sending more and more its own citizens besides Chinese and Afghans, by violating State Subject Rule of 1927.

It is good news that the people of PoGB (Pakistan occupied Gilgit-Baltistan) have also realised that Pakistan’s occupation has increased the atrocities and made them irrelevant in their own Fatherland/Motherland. It is Pakistan which demands self-determination for Indian side of J&K by giving reference of UNCIP resolutions, but denied the same to the people of  its own occupied PoGB (Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan) and PoJK (Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir). It is time to rise against the Pakistan’s occupation of the lands of PoGB in the name of CPEC, without giving the right of ownership to the indigenous people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

BNF demands that the lands which had been snatched forcefully by Pakistani forces must be returned to their owners. BNF also demands that Pakistan must refund all the direct and indirect taxes plundered from this land on behalf of this disputed land.  BNF also demands international community and UN to force Pakistan to free the political prisoners  of BNF and others who have been put behind bars by framing them on terrorism and sedition charges. BNF also demands that UNHRC must send its fact-finding mission to UN recognized Pakistan occupied Gilgit-Baltistan(PoGB) where these political leaders are facing prosecution after being severely tortured by Pakistani occupied administration, in the absence of free and impartial Judiciary.  BNF also demands that a Constitutional Assembly must be allowed to establish under the control of the UN after completely withdrawing Pakistani forces and its civilian terrorists, who have entered this region by violating UNCIP resolutions.

Abdul Hamid Khan

Chairman

Balawaristan National Front (BNF)

Balochistan: Elitist Sardars (feudals) loosing support

⚫ “These elitist sardars are losing public support in Balochistan, which has made them nervous. The gathering reeks of their anxiousness to regain lost relevance in Balochistan’s politics and society” Anwar Kakar

⚫ “The BRP and all other groups meeting in Geneva have two faces. All of these so-called political parties have their militant wings engaged in violence and terrorist activities in Balochistan. These wings are involved in killing of innocent citizens especially labourers from Punjab and other provinces. The IEDs installed by these groups in different parts of Balochistan have led to the killing of many innocent citizens including women and children. These sardars quest for power and resources has turned them into hardcore terrorists,”

⚫ “At the moment, the middle-class Baloch fighting on the ground have stolen the thunder of these big sardars. This is the reason why they now want to take charge of the narrative from the non-elite terrorist groups like the one led by Dr. Allah Nazar.”