By: Zubair Khan
As per media reports, “the Pakistan has conveyed to the United States its serious concerns over a powerful US Congress committee’s meeting held on Wednesday exclusively on the issue of Baluchistan. Foreign Office Spokesman Mr. Basit told that the Pakistani embassy in Washington had taken strong notice of the meeting of the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs to deliberate on the issue of Baluchistan. The official website of the US Congress displayed the notification and topic of the meeting. Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who recently expressed support for an independent Baluchistan in an article, chaired the hearing. “Perhaps we should even consider support for a Baluchistan carved out of Pakistan to diminish radical power there (in Pakistan),” Rohrabacher had written in his article. US legislators touching on a sensitive issue in Pakistan is seen as an important development when frozen Pakistan-US ties are just beginning to thaw. Pakistan considers the issue of Baluchistan an internal one, and some years ago had refused to allow the US to open a consulate in the province. The US State Department involved itself in the issue of Baluchistan when its spokeswoman Victoria Nuland last month urged Pakistan to “really lead and conduct a dialogue that takes the Baluchistan issue forward”. “The United States is deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Baluchistan, especially targeted killings, disappearances and other human rights abuses,” she had said. Interestingly, Nuland addressed the issue in a “twitter-briefing” that the department holds every Friday. “This was a very popular question on our feed, so we wanted to make sure that we answered it today,” said Nuland, who focused on the violence plaguing Baluchistan instead of tackling political issues raised in most of the tweets”.
Pakistani officials say some foreign hands are involved in fanning the violence in the province along the Afghan border. However here question arises why Baluchistan has been selected? President Obama once very clearly stated that the drive to build up American military presence in the Asia-Pacific region stems from identifying two enemies of the United States—China and Iran. While Iran is the immediate one, China is potentially the greater bête noire. Prior to, or after, issuance of these statements, a number of developments have occurred rapidly in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Besides Washington’s distancing itself from Islamabad, the US has begun openly to court the Taliban, an avowed Wahhabite enemy of Shi’a Iran. Vice President Joe Biden has reminded Pakistan recently that President Obama had never identified the Taliban as an enemy. The Taliban has also opened an office in Qatar, a vassal-emirate of Britain, and where the US has military installations; they hope to negotiate with the US/NATO to resolve the Afghanistan imbroglio, and to stake a claim in Kabul. The American plan is seemingly to wean the Taliban away from Pakistan, and bring to power in Kabul a force that is avowedly anti-Iran. Since Iran has been identified by Obama and his Administration as its enemy, the enemy of Iran, the Taliban, may soon become Washington’s friend. In order to bring pressure on Iran, the US has also tripled the size of the Shindand Air Base in western Afghanistan, about 20 miles from the Iranian border. Having been in the works since the fall of 2010, completion of the “Far East Expansion” makes the base second in size only to Bastion Field in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The project is part of a $500 million military construction effort to support Regional Command West, and turn Shindand into the premier flight-training base in Afghanistan. The expansion is slated to become the new living and work area for more than 3,000 Coalition forces and government contractors. Their relocation will make possible the construction of a new 1.3-mile NATO training runway, scheduled to begin early 2012.
So, what is now on Washington’s mind? To begin with, the Obama Administration may have concluded that in order to “deal” with Iran, the US/NATO would like to create a “trouble-free” Afghanistan, which, in Washington’s book, means putting Kabul, and, in essence, all of Afghanistan, under the control of the “friendly” Afghan Taliban and separating the group from its loose ties with Pakistan. It also means that if and when Baluchistan becomes an independent country, London and Washington will secure a direct access to Central Asia using the Arabian Sea. Such an arrangement would smooth US/NATO logistical requirements and pose a permanent threat to the security of Iran’s Strait of Hormuz, a stone’s throw from the western tip of Baluchistan. In the interim, a vigorous secessionist movement unleashed within Baluchistan will enable the anti-Iran crusaders to weaken Iran’s northeastern region through irregular warfare. In the long term, perhaps, the London-Washington objective is to prevent China from coming into the Arabian Sea in the south from the Karakoram Highway in the North, thus establishing a supply line which would enable a faster development of its western part bordering Central Asia. London and Washington believe that by preventing the economic development and security of western China, they would be in a position to set up stripes on the southern flank of Russia, another potential major enemy.
Those well versed with the ill advised designs of US in the region, many a times rang the danger bells, but it looks the powerful stake holders of Pakistan have some different priorities to settle first, like memo gate, contempt by PM, writing of letter to Swiss authorities or missing of Adiala Jail prisoners. There is famous story in subcontinent history in which one of the Mughal ruler of Delhi, when ever informed about the danger of fast advancing army of enemy used to say “Hanooz Dilli Door Ast” Same attitude is stemming out currently from top notches of Pakistan. It appears as no one is ready to appreciate the gravity of deteriorating situation in Baluchistan. No lesson seems to have been learnt by Pakistani rulers from the debacle of Bangladesh. There are very strong indications that volcano of Baluchistan is about to explode but who cares in Pakistan!