By Shoukat Ali
The largest province of Pakistan, Balochistan is located in a “geopolitical crush zone.” The positive and prompt exploitation of this province’s geoeconomic and geostrategic significance could be extremely beneficial for Pakistan. Iran and Afghanistan share a border with Balochistan; and it connects Afghanistan to the Central Asian Republics (CARs) via Afghanistan. The province can also connect Pakistan to a number of countries in the Indian Ocean for trade and economic activities via the Arabian Sea.
All the great powers had a strategic interest in this region. For geopolitical and economic reasons, reaching the warm waters was particularly appealing to the Russians. Due to such imperatives, numerous geopolitical and geostrategic scholars may emphasize Balochistan significance.
One could argue that the province of Balochistan becomes one of the most important conduits for both Afghanistan, which is landlocked, and CARs that want to sell their goods to Middle Eastern nations through Balochistan. Pakistan must simultaneously secure a peaceful Afghanistan in order to attract the CARs. As China seeks to develop regional connectivity through Pakistan, particularly through the Gwadar Deep Sea Port, the centrality of Balochistan in international politics grows with China’s regional rise. Other important sea ports for Pakistan include the Karachi Port and Port Qasim, in addition to Gwadar Port. When all parties benefit from the proposed regional connectivity, peace, stability, and prosperity can be guaranteed in the entire South Asia region through the imperatives of cooperation and competition rather than a strategy of containment.
However, the geopolitical and geoeconomic challenges continue to be of the utmost importance, as does the struggle for regional connectivity while simultaneously ensuring prosperity in the region. Most people think that China’s rise in the region and its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) pose a threat to India and, more specifically, the US’s dominance in the Asia-Pacific region.
As a result, major powers employ containment strategies in addition to cooperation and competition. China is attempting to economically integrate as many Asian countries as it can to neutralize the US strategy of offshore balancing. In this context, the US and its close Asian allies are making every effort to contain China’s rise through QUAD and AUKUS. As a result, the strategy of containment between the major powers may continue to accelerate further, alongside cooperation and competition. Many people worry that the conflict between these needs could lead to a security problem that could lead to serious military conflicts between these powers, which could have an impact on Pakistan’s security. In general, China’s rise in tandem with the BRI; the US strategy for offshore balancing; India’s nuclear and military modernization, as well as its outreach to the Indian Ocean Region via Chabahar Port as an alternative to Gwadar Port; connectivity across the region and a collaboration, competition, and containment strategy; reflect Pakistan’s growing significance in international politics, particularly Balochistan, its largest province.
As a result, Pakistan must catch up with the rapidly changing dynamics between the major powers that affect Pakistan and Balochistan. The rule of the day is to use as many advantages as possible to Pakistan’s advantage. In addition, Pakistan must focus on resolving local issues like water scarcity, insecurity, education mismanagement, unemployment, bad governance, corruption, and a slew of other long-standing issues affecting the Baloch people. If this is not done, the people of Balochistan run the risk of being badly exploited by both internal and external forces working against Pakistan’s vital interests.
Balochistan is having a hard time adapting to new opportunities and challenges. However, the essence of geopolitical and geostrategic imperative is still alive because of its strategic value. These imperatives are bolstered by the province’s overall significance, and many of the issues Balochistan faces today can be resolved if things are manipulated promptly and effectively in the province’s and the nation’s best interest. In its preeminent public interest, Pakistan needs to develop a procedure embraced with adjusted approaches while keeping up with better relations with every one of the dependable partners both inside the provincial and then some.
Shoukat Ali is a graduate from the University of Balochistan in International Relations. He can be reached [email protected]