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Balochistan can help India subdue Pakistan-China and become a regional friend

Balochistan can help India subdue Pakistan-China and become a regional friend

In a fast-changing geopolitical climate, we notice that Pakistan is at the crossroads. The US no longer needs Pakistan as American troops pull out from Afghanistan. The country's relations with Saudi Arabia are on a decline and on the economic front it is saddled with rising external debt.

On matters of terrorism, Pakistan finds itself caught in its own snare with the Financial Action Task Force scrutinizing its records as a terror haven. At a different level, India’s western neighbor has made great success out of its relations with Turkey and the economic-friendship bond with China remains strong as steel. Geopolitical analyst Mark Kinra talks to Rahul Kumar of about India-Pakistan relations. Kinra is a corporate lawyer and geopolitical analyst who studied political science from Tel Aviv University, Israel.

He works on South Asia, specializing in Pakistan and Balochistan. He is involved with think tanks and academicians in India and Israel, and regularly publishes on geo-politics and society. He can be found on India Narrative: Do you think Pakistan has overplayed the Kashmir card which is now losing traction internationally including in the Muslim world?

Kinra: The Kashmir issue for Pakistan is like a bottle of cold drink. Every time you open the bottle to drink a bit, you enjoy the fizz but more you open less is fizz. Similarly, Pakistan has been using Kashmir issue left, right and centre, more so after the abrogation of Article 370. Since last year, Pakistan has tried to engage the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) over Kashmir at least 13 times and raised the issue at the UN at least three times. OIC was more so a lip service, while in the UN it was snubbed by India and other friendly countries.

A recent example of Pakistan loosing international traction on Kashmir was when Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi burst out during an interview to a news channel that if Saudi Arabia is not willing to take up the Kashmir issue then Pakistan will raise the issue with other like-minded countries from OIC minus Saudi Arabia.

This outburst by the Foreign Minister caused ripples across Pakistan and the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Bajwa was forced to travel to Saudi Arabia to extinguish the fire, but the bridges were burnt already. Saudi Crown Prince Mohmmad Bin Salman not only refused to meet COAS Bajwa but Pakistan was also asked for the repayment of loan and $3.2 billion deferred oil facility provided by Saudi Arabia has also not been renewed.

Geopolitics is mostly about a country's interests and with the changing world scenario there will be changes in various geo-political alignments. In another event, on September 17, Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur stated that Gilgit-Baltistan will soon be accorded status as full-fledged province with all constitutional rights. By doing this, Pakistan will be reaching the position where the cold drink loses all its fizz and only sugary water remains which will be difficult to gulp as Pakistan has itself diluted its alleged legal stand on Kashmir, making India’s position firmer in the international arena.

India Narrative: Why is that we cannot tackle the various kinds of subterfuge from Pakistan which have been so consistent for decades—cross-border firing, pushing of militants, printing fake Indian currency, serial attacks on Mumbai and now cyber-attacks. Is it that we have accepted this abnormal situation as ‘normal’ or we lack in a coherent strategy to deal with Pakistan?

Kinra: With due respect to the hard-working men and women who protect our country day and night to stop the attacks that general public are not aware about, remember that you are dealing with Pakistan which is a state and not just a militant entity that you can take upon and finish. Moreover, Pakistan’s relevance is wholeheartedly based on hatred of India, and all its machinery is working on that cause itself. History is full of episodes which states that we don’t lack courage and we have taken steps in that direction.

What we lack is a coherent strategy—most of our geo-political problems, be it Pakistan or China, can be solved if we decide for sure how should we deal with Pakistan in a long-term strategic manner, wherein our gains are more than damage.

A great example of this can be Balochistan, which if utilized properly, can help in subduing Pakistan and China, and making a friend in the region who will in turn help you in furthering your interests in the region.

India Narrative: We know it is tough being a minority in Pakistan. Their population has come down to around 3 per cent. Do you think the global community can do anything about it or will Sunni majoritarianism purge these few people in a few years?

Kinra: The global community will do the same thing what it is doing now—nothing! Only Indians can help raise the issue of minorities in Pakistan. Pakistan doesn’t want to answer the hard questions. When minority numbers reduce further and become miniscule, Pakistan might begin to safeguard them and keep some minority members as a showpiece to highlight its secular credentials.

India has to go beyond the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and state that any minority—specially Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Bodhs, Parsi, Christians, the Kalash community, etc., are welcome to India as it is their natural homeland.

India Narrative: Looking at Afghanistan, it seems that Pakistan is more interested in Afghan affairs than anyone else. With the US pulling out, Pakistan is likely to have a free-run of its western neighbor. What do you foresee in Afghanistan? Do you see any Indian involvement?

Kinra: Pakistan, since its creation, had been envisaged as an expansionist state. Initially Pakistan played around with the idea of a confederation between Pakistan and Afghanistan and when it didn’t work out, Pakistan tried to control Afghanistan through its Deep State. The most important aspect of Pakistan’s Deep State is the Taliban. Even in the best case scenario if Intra-Afghan talks succeed, the ideologies of these partners are so varied that clashes are eminent and it is unlikely that US will completely move out as US interests will continue to be there.

I don’t foresee Pakistan having a free run as there are multiple players in Afghanistan to engage Pakistan. Moreover the Taliban will have to carry some baggage of its democratic friends who are not comfortable with Pakistan.

I believe India’s role in Afghanistan will substantially increase as India will continue to back its democratic partners. It the Taliban wants to control Afghanistan it has to govern the country, and with India’s history in development and support of Afghanistan, India will be a prime contender with respect to economic development—which will in turn lead to Taliban and India rubbing shoulders together in the long run. Even if the talks fail, India will continue its support for the Afghan government as Afghanistan today is a part of India’s neighborhood more than ever.