One has always been of the view that the war against terror fought in Waziristan, Swat and other parts of Pakistan was only a sideshow. The battleground for a decisive outcome remains to be Balochistan. He who wins this battle shall dominate the South Asian and Middle Eastern region including the Indian Ocean, from the Strait of Malacca and Bay of Bengal to the Persian Gulf and beyond the Gulf of Aden and Black Sea.

If one reads Sir Walker’s book “The Next Domino”, the theory of the Great Game makes the whole scenario clear. What place Pakistan, especially Balochistan, had in the Great Game is understood from its geographical location between the Indian Ocean and at the head of warm waters. It has its strategic significance, too; connecting the Iranian Plateau with South East Asia and Central Asia to its coastline on the shores of Arabian Sea makes it important. And Balochistan, like Afghanistan, has $1 trillion worth treasures underneath, which are untapped and waiting for destiny at the hands of ‘players’.

The Great Game was a 19th century Russo-UK tug of war over Afghanistan, Central Asia and South Asia. Britain was fearful of Russia invading India to add to the empire Russia was building in Asia. Ian Cummins in “Afghanistan: ‘The Great Game’ or Domino Theory?” helps understand the plan post-9/11 i.e. New Great Game involving China, Russia, India and the US.

The goal of establishing a “Greater Corridor” and control of Balochistan by foreign actors was allegedly set to be achieved by September 30, 2009; another deadline was set for March 2011 and another for July 2015. It never happened. It will never happen. The biggest impediment in its way was, and still is, the Pakistan military. Not everyone knows how hard this battle had been. It’s not finished yet; rather it may be the beginning.

Who is doing it and why? A simple answer is, India. But India is only a visible enemy, with few visible objectives, it is only a tool in the hands of greater plan. Likewise, there are some Pakistanis who are being allured into playing in the hands of collaborators. Consider the following.

In ‘scenario one’, a Congressional hearing is held on Balochistan; Senator Dana Rohrabacher garners support of Louie Gohmert and Steve King; a week later they introduce a resolution in the US House of Representatives calling upon Pakistan to recognise the Baloch ‘right to self-determination’.

India establishes nine training camps along the Afghan border, where they are training BLA men. India in collaboration is funding and arming the Baloch. President Musharraf asks the US officials to intervene on ‘deliberate’ attempts by Kabul and Delhi to destabilise Balochistan. “Pakistan has proof that India and Afghanistan are involved in efforts to provide weapons, training and funding for Baloch extremists, who were living in Kabul.”

Chuck Hagel, Obama’s nominee for secretary of defence said that India has been using Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. “India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border, and you can carry that into many dimensions.”

Ajit Doval, India’s national security advisor, in a video lecture warns Pakistan: “You do one more Mumbai, you lose Balochistan”. The arrest of Kulbushan from Balochistan bears testimony to the fact. It clearly means the stage had already been set and only a trigger ‘like Mumbai’ was awaited. Hats off to our intelligence agencies, and salutes to men like Captain Qadeer, who busted the Indian spy network and thwarted the plot in Balochistan.

In scenario two, there is a crucial meeting at the RAW headquarters held in the aftermath of a 10-month-long troop build-up against Pakistan. The question is, why did the Indian army fail to launch an attack during the year-long period? The answer is the very smart counter manoeuvring by Pak Army’s strike corps that “left for us no space to launch an attack”. And the conclusion is: “Pakistan can’t be defeated in conventional war, unless its army is entangled in an unending internal strife, and a tiresome asymmetrical war, which may end in its dismantling.” The meeting approves the modus operandi to teach Pakistan a lesson. Balochistan is earmarked for a decisive battle.

The modus operandi includes picking up college/university students or unemployed Baloch, or the bonded labourers living in Ferrari camps serving the sardars, and shift them to training camps in Afghanistan or India and then send them back to become an armed activist of BLA or BRA. These ‘kidnapped’ individuals are dubbed as ‘missing’, and the blame is put on Pak Army or FC. To prove it as true, mutilated or head chopped bodies of their own victims are shown in the media wrongly identifying them with their original names, while the same individuals remain active in acts of sabotage under fake identities.

Problem is not that ‘credible’ media mouths spit anti-Pakistan venom. They are the new Great Game tools, after all. Problem is that a few Pakistanis are available to enemies for misleading reports. The number of missing persons is misquoted, which only locals or institutions can talk about. Unfortunately, they are never contacted. A journalist works on a story for months, but his mal-intent is evident from the fact that he contacts, only through email, for the other side’s version hours before filing the story with a ‘smart’ line in the story as a result; “no response was available till the filing of this report”. This is bad journalism. Isn’t it?

Should Pakistan get cowed down or befittingly respond? Pakistan reserves the right to safeguard its interests. What interests? It’s only us to decide, without any interference or diktat. Gwadar-CPEC is a challenge. The ‘players’ must be conveyed that if they are to benefit from CPEC, most welcome. But an attempt to impede this project shall be dealt with severely. The Baloch people are Pakistanis first. They too render sacrifices; in the War on Terror their share is huge. BLA is a world-declared terrorist outfit, and therefore banned. Glorifying anyone connected to it is tantamount to helping terrorism. Living nations can’t be coerced or subjugated. Afghans have proved it. And Balochistan, the beholder of the 7000-year-old Mehrgarh civilisation, bears a similar lesson. Would they care to learn?