Monday, September 12, 2016

Balochistan is not Bangladesh, but its worth trying !!!

Suddenly Balochistan is in news. Credit goes to Shri Narendra Modi, the Indian PM. Most of the people in India never knew about Balochistan. Coming directly to the subject. Many of the people are getting an impression that India can easily separate Balochistan from Pakistan, as they did with Bangladesh (East Pakistan) in 1971. This perception is wrong because of the below key differences between Bangladesh & Balochistan.

Differences between possibility of Independence between Balochistan & Bangladesh

  • India doesn't share any physical boundary with Balochistan as they did with Bangladesh. 
    • Ability for logistical support will be bare minimum.
    • Direct Military action is not possible
  • Pakistan mainland has a direct boundary with Balochistan which was not the case with Bangladesh.
  • No Political direction or single political leader
    • In case of Bangladesh, Sheik Mujib-ur-Rehman was a single united political force which could rally the masses of Bangladesh after him.
    • In case of Baluchistan, there are different tribal chiefs with their own views. There is no single united binding futuristic view of them for Balochistan as a single Nation. Sardar's personal feuds and rivalries are pulling back a united attempt for freedom
  • No clear vision on what could be a future Balochistan as a Nation. How the natural resources will be used? Will it be an Islamic republic?
  • Population of Balochistan is much less as compared to Bangladesh. Its a sparsely populated province. Pakistan can change the ethnic demography of the province
  • Terrain information, language & socio-cultural connect is low with India
  • Iran Factor: Iran will not support idea of Baloch nationalism as it may impact the Baloch population in Iran. They may want to join the new Balochistan Nation. In case of Bangladesh, there was no such case with any other neighbor. 

Fig 1. Ethnic Baloch Population

Based on above points, its very clear that India can't play a role in case of Balochistan as it did in case of Bangladesh. It has to use only covert means.

How India can support the Struggle:-

India can support the Baloch cause in various ways
  1. Give a voice to Balochistan Cause & build an opinion among various countries
    • India can provide a voice to Balochistan cause in various international forums. 
    • Many nations might be interested to know because of the geo-strategic location of Balochistan as well as resources & minerals in the biggest province of Pakistan
  2. Build a consensus among freedom fighters
    • Sardars have their own personal rivalries & feuds. A consensus is needed among them to work as a cohesive unit
    • Make middle class & sardars work together for a common goal of Freedom for Balochistan
    • Help define the dream of Balochistan as a single nation with a way forward.
  3. Support of Afghanistan & Iran
    • Baloch nationalism may directly impact the territorial integrity of Afghanistan as well as Iran. Both being friends of India, India should build an understanding that the new Balochistan state will only in Pakistan part and they won't start a new struggle to unite the whole Baloch population once they are independent.
    • Support from Afghanistan & Iran can help provide India with some ground to help the Baloch Freedom Fighters
  4. Support from China, Russia & US
    • Convince China that Free Balochistan will favor it with availability of resources and no impact will take place for existing projects. 
    • Chinese support will give a guarantee for Chinese civilians working on CPEC
    • Connection of Gwadar & Chabahar port, once Balochistan is free state.
    • Build confidence among Russia & US that resource rich Balochistan will provide a fair access to its resources
  5. Arms, training, monetary, tactical & moral support
    • For any insurgency to sustain for long they need arms training as well as money to feed themselves.
    • Support from spy agencies with intelligence of Pakistani military movements
  6. Put pressure on Pakistani Army with Multi fronts
    • 3 fronts pressure can keep Pakistani army spread accross
      • Af-Pak Border - 
        • Waziristan operations : Pakistan is busy conducting Zarb-e-azb operations in this part. 
        • There has been some conflict between Afghanistan & Pakistan near Torkham gate
      • LOC with India 
        • India needs to keep pressure on Pakistan to keep its bulk of army in LOC because of security threats from Indian side
      • Ethnic tensions in different parts of pakistan will keep them busy internally. Like MQM's dictat in Karachi.
      • Baloch Front

What India can attempt for below objectives:-

India can objectively achieve to target the below using Balochistan, as India is a peaceful democratic nation and may want to elevate more people out of poverty rather than war
  • Get Kashmir issue kind of resolved with converting of LOC to actual border.
    • Talk with Pakistan that if they don't stop, India will divide Pakistan into 4 nation
    • China will want Gilgit-Baltistan to be settled as CPEC passes through it.
  • Make Pakistan give more rights to Baloch people and some more autonomy. India can convince Balochs with autonomy and make compromise on separation.
  • In-road access to Pakistan & India among themselves.
    • India will benefit from trade with Afghanistan & Iran
    • Pakistan can trade with Nepal, Bhutan & Bangladesh
    • Better Economic prosperity

Hopefully, Balochistan can serve to fulfill the above three objective and make the people of Indian subcontinent improvise on their standard of living

Friday, September 11, 2015

Is Modi Neutralising China's "String Of Pearls" ?

Since the new BJP-led government has come, we have been witnessing a lot of foreign trips by our new Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi. Is there something more than economics behind these visits? Well, if we look at these visits and the geopolitical change taking place around the globe, it looks there is possibility of a major military adventure which can't be denied.

The "String of Pearls" set by China in the Indian Oceans to contain Indian within the ghetto's of South Asia. The "String of Pearls" include Gwadar (Pakistan), Hambantota (Sri Lanka), Chittagong (Bangladesh), Sittwe (Myanmar), which are in close proximity to India. Every one understands that its to secure China's energy supply lines as its dependent on petroleum imports heavily similar to India. But same ports can be used against Indian interests in case of any eventualities.

I believe India needs to take as many pearls away from the "String of Pearls" as possible. Since Narendra Modi's government have come to power, we are observing a good nice thought approach to counter the Chinese challenge. That is pluck the pearls away from the "String of Pearls". Lets talk about each of the pearls one by one

Burma :- Myanmar government now has much better relation with India as compared to china. There has been some unease between the relationship of Burma & China post Kokang incident. Relationship with India on the other hand has improved following the military operations near the Nagaland-Burma border. Indian security personnels like Ajit Doval and others are visiting Burma to improve relations. It has been a known fact that Indian Military & Burmese military relationships are good & cordial and they don't have any conflict. Many times when burmese crossed the border following burmese rebels Indian Military looked as if nothing happened and same thing is being done by Burmese military now. I believe there are some talks of Indian government helping Myanmar fight the insurgents of Kachin. Myanmar on its side is trying not to be more than dependent on china and is trying to build closer relationship with India & ASEAN countries. India is financing construction of Sittwe port in Myanmar to access its land locked north east.

Bangladesh (Chittagong):- Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh to move the Indo-Bangla relationships to the next level. The main highlight of the visit was actual closure of Land Boundary Agreement with exchange of enclaves, which has been due for long. Bangladesh will be able to use Indian territory to access markets in Nepal & Bhutan, 2 Billion $ of credit to Bangladesh, two new bus services to connect kolkata & north eastern states, and many others. Teesta didn't took much attention as all attention was grabbed by LBA agreement. The one with the highest strategic implication was allowing Indian Cargos to use Chittagong (One of the pearls). It means Indians cargo will enter the port and at the same time have some information on the chinese movements their. Now Bangladesh & India share much more greater trust and hence chances of Bangladesh allowing China to use its naval or land resources for anti-India activity is low.

Sri Lanka:- Sri Lanka & India always had some hiccups in their relationship in the past because of LTTE. Former Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa was much closer to chinese than to Indians. But with the change of power, new president Sirisena is moving the balance of power back to India. China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) which was responsible in development of Sri Lanka's colombo port city is involved in corruption charges. Hambantota has not proved to be economically viable yet with loan and interest amount to be paid to China, even after being declared a free port. Well one can concede that even the new Government in Sri Lanka can't offend the chinese as they are in need of investments and can't repay the loans already taken. However, new Sri Lankan government has given some hints that it may not allow any submarines to doc in its port ,in future, to calm down Indians. India so far has focused its investments in the north of Sri Lanka (Erstwhile - Tamil Eelam). But with the Chinese economy showing signs of going down and Indian economy picking up the present situation can be turned around in near future.

Pakistan's Gwadar & Iran's Chabar: Well this is open knowledge of everyone that India can't do anything about Pakistan to stop anti-India activities. So the Indian response has been to develop Chabar port in Iran. However interesting both the ports are located in the provinces having some Baloch resentments. With western sanctions expected to end very soon, India needs to get Chabar port developed fast and make it operational for bigger ships, while working in sync with Iran government. Development of this port will provide India with the better access to landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia countries. So a great game is being played here between India & China.

Well the above were some of the ports as part of China's "String of Pearls" around India. And the counter balances which India is taking to nullify the encirclement. Hopefully, under Modi's leadership India will emerge as a super power and not be enclosed in ghettos of South Asia.