Maverick US Congressmen Rep Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) and Rep Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) have initiated efforts to change the entire political structure of South West Asia (SWA) by creating an independent Balochistan comprising Pakistani, Iranian and Afghan Baloch areas in cahoots with the Afghan Northern Alliance (ANA) and a group of angry Pakistan Baloch Sardars (PBS). In February, they organised a public congressional hearing on Balochistan and then introduced a Baloch right to self-determination bill before the US Congress.

Their implied imperatives for this proposed policy shift are multifarious.

The geopolitical imperatives: By creating such a Balochistan, the US will be able to punish Pakistan for its many actual and perceived sins, including - being ostensibly responsible for its calamitous defeat in Afghanistan. By default, the statures of India and Israel would rise in the region and make them even more aggressive. Russia, China and the CARs will be effectively kept away from the Arabian Sea and the Greater Middle East Region (GMER). Iran’s envelopment would be total and its ability to project power severely constricted. The US-India-Israel nexus will emerge most dominant.

Such a US dominated independent unified Balochistan would literally cut Pakistan to size, unleashing powerful centrifugal forces that will send it splintering. This will kick-start an unstoppable ethno-regional chain reaction. All divided ethnic-tribal-sectarian populations across the Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India-Nepal-Bangladesh-Sri Lanka complex and beyond will find cause to redraw the existing political borders to create similar states for themselves too. This will massively destabilise the whole South Central Asian Region (SCAR) and the Greater Middle East Region (GMER) and unleash uncontrollable upheavals, turmoil and strife - creating fertile grounds for further exploitation by the US-led West!

The geostrategic imperatives: A severely truncated Pakistan is presumed to be more amenable to pressures applied by the US and its protégé India, the “regional cop-in-waiting”. However, as a natural corollary to this ‘proposed dismemberment’ of Pakistan, there would be an immediate and critical lowering of nuclear thresholds in the SCAR-GMER! The ramifications would be severe and with extra regional connotations! Balochistan constitutes the most vital and critical strategic space for Pakistan and it will “employ all elements of its power to protect this vital space so critical for the province’s solidarity, territorial integrity and survival as a unified nation!”

Were the US to base forces in this proposed territory of Balochistan, it would acquire the strategic central position in SWA. It will effectively control all Pakistani ports on the Arabian Sea/Mekran Coast and dominate the Iranian ports of Chabahar and Port Abbas. It will also be able to project power through the Straits of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and by implication the Indian Ocean. Russia, China and the CARs will be contained, while the envelopment of Iran would be complete. Iran’s dominance of the Straits of Hormuz would be critically circumscribed and its bargaining position severely slashed. Pakistan’s and Iran’s nuclear installations would remain vulnerable under hawkish US oversight. US-Indian-Israeli dominance of the SCAR-GMER will be complete!

The geo-economic imperatives: Such a proposed state of Balochistan would greatly facilitate the US and the West to exploit and harvest its and Afghanistan’s enormous mineral deposits. Furthermore, Balochistan provides the only viable natural trade corridor to link the world’s largest fossil fuel deposits of the GMER and the CARs to the energy deficient and voracious economies of India and China. The US would like to create and control such east-west and north-south trade corridors. The USA’s New Silk Road Project (NSRP) is a step in this very direction. This would also deny China, Russia and the CARs these trade corridors and the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. Most critically it would deprive China of a most important pearl in its “strategy of string of pearls - Gwadar!” The USA will thus have a stranglehold over the economic jugular of the region.

The modus operandi: Extensive bipartisan support in the US Congress will be sought to make these bills part of the US government policy. A sympathetic international environment and opinion will be crafted through the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), their various organisations and other international fora, and the Western, Indian and some elements of Pakistani media.

The “Baloch case” will, probably, hinge upon “the right of self-determination”, “ethnic cleansing” and “human rights violations” - a la Bosnia Herzegovina (ethnic cleansing) and Sudan and East Timor (rights of self-determination). At the appropriate time, a Baloch government-in-exile will announce a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), which will be immediately accepted by the UN, the US and its allies. A pliant UN Security Council (UNSC) will then pass the requisite resolution for international intervention in Balochistan. A plebiscite for Baloch independence under UN auspices will follow. An international expeditionary force will also be assembled for strategic effect.

The reality: Of all the Baloch tribes, the errant ones are but a small part! The large majority of the Baloch as well as the Pashtun/Hazaras/settlers are not inclined towards independence or secession. Therefore, there is no casus belli for any international intervention - diplomatic, informational, political or military - in Balochistan, Pakistan.

Sure, there are issues in Balochistan that need to be tackled post-haste. But the solution has to be homemade and essentially political in nature. An alien solution cannot be rammed down Pakistan’s throat. This is an internal matter for Pakistan, indeed! All actions have to be taken by the Pakistanis, for the Pakistanis and strictly within the ambit of Pakistan and Pakistan alone. Period.

Once challenged, nuclear Pakistan will react very violently and decisively to safeguard its solidarity and territorial integrity. All options, by default, will always stay on the table! All regional and global powers like China, Russia and fora, like the UN, the EU, the OIC, the SCO, the ECO etc, must play their due pre-emptive roles at the UNSC and all other related international platforms to forestall any such gargantuan misadventures.

To US-India-Israel’s abiding regret, Pakistan-Iran-Afghanistan will close ranks to collectively ward off this threat in the making!

The author is a retired brigadier and a former defence attaché to Australia and New Zealand. He is Secretary General of Pakistan Forum for Security and Development.

Email: im_k@hotmail.com