Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More on the critical situation in Baluchistan

A statement in a recent post by Arundhati Ghose, former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, reveals an interesting detail about the Pakistani position on Baluchistan that has been little discussed. She is referring to negotiations over the projected pipeline through Baluchistan to India:
Pakistan has been at pains to reassure India that the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline will be secure through the territory of Balochistan. They now accept that they are facing threats there similar to the ones ‘in other areas’, presumably, Swat and Waziristan, where they are fighting a civil war.
One could speculate further: India now has the option to internationalise the struggle for self-determination of the Baloch people, should it wish to—in the United Nations and other international forums.

That Pakistan now acknowledges a problem in Baluchistan is not really new, but the importance of the problem there has not been much discussed in the western press. And yes, it is as serious as the problems in Swat and Waziristan. For Afghanistan it is certainly serious because the Taliban seem to be free to move through the Baluchistan/ Afghanistna border freely, which has enabled them to have a powerful position in Helmand, and now also Kandahar.

Note also the remark about India's options. It helps us appreciate the Pakistani worry about the sense of threat from India. Of course Pakistan would never tolerate "self-determination" of Baluchistan: too much already invested [Gwadar] in such a strategic location on the India Ocean and currently the main source of Pakistan's gas supply. That India would think of proposing "independence" for Baluchistan would surely be nothing more than a move in the strategic "game." [Click on the title for a link to Ambasssador Ghose's article.]

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