Balochistan: Crossroads of Proxy War

Balochistan: Crossroads of Proxy War

By Eric DRAITSER (USA)

Balochistan_Terrorism.jpg

The current unrest in Balochistan centers around forced disappearances, kidnappings, targeted killings, assassinations and terrorism. However, these are merely the tactics of a much broader, more geopolitically complex war in which the United States and its Western allies are engaged. Though seemingly insignificant against the backdrop of all the regional and international crises affecting our world, Balochistan is, in fact, a nexus: the point at which diametrically opposing strategic interests converge.

The United States views Balochistan, an area that encompasses western Pakistan, eastern Iran, and a piece of southern Afghanistan, as critical to the maintenance of US hegemony in the Middle East and Central and South Asia. Conversely, China regards the region as necessary for its own economic and political evolution into a world superpower. Seen in this way, Balochistan becomes central to the development of geopolitical power in the 21st Century.

Location, Location, Location

Balochistan is located in one of the most geographically and politically significant places anywhere in the world. Not only does the region sit astride three countries which have become central to Western political and military power projection, it is also central to the development and export of energy from Central Asia, access to the Indian Ocean, and a host of other geopolitical imperatives for both the West and the SCO/BRICS countries. Because of this, the region has grown exponentially in importance to all the major powers of the world.

Though the land seems, on the surface, to be inhospitable, it also holds great wealth just beneath the soil. Aside from what is believed to be a large quantity of natural gas and/or oil, the earth under the feet of the Baloch people holds vast quantities of minerals necessary for economic development. Because of this, the conflict raging in the region takes on the added dimension of being a resource war, on top of a geographical and political one.

Balochistan’s location has another crucial element that makes it geopolitically necessary: it sits at the crossroads of the most important trade routes between West and East. Although, in the public mind, trade crossroads seem to be a thing of the past (one might imagine the Silk Road being traveled by camel), in fact, they are essential to development. Land-based trade, something the Chinese understand to be a linchpin of their economic and political evolution into a superpower, is impossible without a stable and dependable Balochistan, and this is precisely what the United States and the West seeks to prevent.

This focus on land-based access to trade should always be seen in the context of energy. China’s insatiable thirst for oil and gas makes the development of pipelines from Central Asia, Iran, and elsewhere invaluable to them. The Iran-Pakistan pipeline, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, and other projects all serve to increase the importance of Balochistan in the eyes of the Chinese. Additionally, the Chinese-funded, Pakistani Gwadar Port is the access point for Chinese commercial shipping to the Indian Ocean and on to Africa. With all of this as a backdrop, one can begin to see just why Balochistan is so significant to the Chinese and, conversely, why the United States and its Western puppets seek to destabilize it.

Western Subversion and Destabilization

The Western imperialist powers have an obvious interest in preventing a stable Balochistan from emerging. Not only is the region essential to the Chinese, it is also a major part of the covert war being waged against both Iran and Pakistan. Terrorist groups with direct and indirect links to Western intelligence agencies operate with impunity in Balochistan, a vast area that is nearly impossible to police. The Pakistani government is not oblivious to the fact that foreign intelligence agencies are behind much of the violence in Balochistan, a fact that was even stated publicly by former President Musharraf. In fact, Islamabad, though they cannot state it publicly, is aware that its survival rests on the ability to quell the unrest in Balochistan, which in turn means they must effectively combat the foreign-controlled separatism.

In an article published by the Qatari English-language newspaper The Peninsula, the author cited credible sources as saying that “the CIA is indulging in heavy recruitment of local people as agents (each being paid $500 a month)”. Additionally we know that the CIA, under the leadership of Gen. Petraeus, has been using Afghan refugees to destabilize Balochistan. The significance of these revelations should not be understated. The fact that the CIA is recruiting agents and informants throughout Balochistan indicates that the US strategy of subversion is multi-faceted. On the one hand, a network of agents allows for intelligence and information manipulation while, on the other hand, the United States engages in terrorism through a variety of terrorist groups it controls or manipulates either directly or indirectly. As was reported in Foreign Policy magazine, the CIA and Mossad compete to control Jundallah, an important fact because it shows the way in which the Western imperialists use Balochistan, the base of Jundallah, to wage covert war on Iran, including the assassination of scientists, terrorist bombings aimed at critical infrastructure, and targeted killings of ethnic minorities.

Aside from Jundallah, the CIA and its counterparts (MI6, Mossad, and India’s RAW) are actively engaged in the handling and manipulation of a variety of other terror groups operating in Balochistan. The Baloch Liberation Army, headed by Brahamdagh Bugti and others, has long-standing ties with British MI6 going all the way back to the early days of Pakistan’s independence. This group isresponsible for countless terrorist actions in the region, all of which have been aimed at innocent civilians. This, and other groups like it, illustrates the way in which the United States and its allies use the weapon of terrorism to create chaos for the purpose of destabilizing Balochistan, thereby preventing economic development both for the Balochi people and, by extension, China.

Political Sabotage

The tactics of subversion are not limited to terrorism and espionage in Balochistan. One of the most critical dimensions of this issue is the use of political destabilization through the US Congress. Lawmakers such as Representative Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA), who himself has led the anti-Pakistan charge, have argued vigorously for the “right of self-determination of the people of Balochistan”. Of course, what he means by this is that he, and others who have a vested interest in the issue, support separatism and the destruction of modern Pakistan. In so doing, Rohrbacher and other members of the Congress act, as they always do, as apologists and facilitators of the US imperial strategy of dividing nations in order to control them. Rohrbacher, who himself has long-standing ties to Al-Qaeda (former mujahideen) fighters, is a vociferous proponent of a fiercely anti-Pakistan agenda, one which treats that nation as a threat to the United States. Naturally, the only threat Pakistan truly poses is that, in the course of the development of China, Pakistan has chosen to be on the side of economic development, rather than allow itself to be perpetually subjugated to the will of the United States.

The resolution introduced by Rohrbacher, who is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, called for the US to support Baloch separatism and end relations with the democratically elected government in Islamabad. He has repeatedly issued threats and other provocations which have been correctly interpreted by the Pakistani government as meddling in their internal affairs. The goal of these resolutions and provocations has been to make the case, both politically and in the court of public opinion, that Pakistan is a terrorist state which, because of the twisted logic of the American people, means that the US should be able to do whatever it wants to them.

The goals of the Western imperialists vis-à-vis Balochistan have been, and remain, very simple: destabilize the region in order to block the Chinese from using it to assert their regional dominance and continue on the path to economic development. Using the same, tired tactics of terrorism and political subversion, they hope to achieve these aims. However, unlike the case of the British imperialist ruling class of a century ago, the United States must contend with a Pakistan that maintains a strong current of nationalism, one that rejects the hegemony of the United States in the region, and one that has friends internationally. Unfortunately for the Baloch people, the US ruling class has learned nothing from history and continues to use them as pawns against their perceived enemy in Beijing. Without a strong, nationalist government in Islamabad, one that is willing to do more than just protest US actions, there will be no peace in Balochistan. Instead, the situation will only deteriorate as the US elites continue their drive for dominance in the 21st Century, whatever the human and financial cost may be.

SourceStop Imperialism 

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China Officially Invites Iran’s President to SCO Summit in Beijing

China Officially Invites Iran’s President to SCO Summit in Beijing

TEHRAN (FNA)- Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that the country’s President Hu Jintao has officially invited his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The 12th SCO summit will be held in Beijing on June 6-7.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Weimin said that the leaders of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan have also been invited to the event.

The participants in the SCO summit would discuss current regional and international developments during the meeting.

Iran currently holds an observer status in the group and applied for full membership in a request filed on March 24, 2008.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai, China, by the Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Russian, Tajik, Uzbek and Chinese heads of state.

SCO member governments include China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as four formally designated observer countries, namely Iran, India, Mongolia and Pakistan.

Ahmadinejad’s visit to China takes on particular significance as China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council and has resisted US demands for sanctions on Iran.

Iran, OPEC’s second-largest producer, exports most of its 2.2 million barrels of oil per day to Asia, home to its four main customers: China, Japan, India and South Korea.

“The killers used knives, which are a kind of ‘signature’ of attacks by Islamic militants”

[Later reports which, somehow escape the global censors and translators, have confirmed that a majority of the victims died by stabbing or shooting through the head.  This helps confirm that UN observers, who have been trusted to represent the interests of the people of planet Earth, are lying to us.]

“The [UN] observers have confirmed the use of artillery shells fired by tanks.head of the UN observer mission

Damascus: “Slaughter of the Hula carried out by terrorists “

Iran has married his version of the Syrian regime, claiming that the massacre was the work of terrorist groups.Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi: “The massacre marked a turning point”

 
Il presidente siriano, Bashar al-Assad, parla ai suoi sostenitori (Ansa)

The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad speaks to his supporters (Reuters)

Moscow, May 28, 2012 – UN envoy and the Arab League, Kofi Annan, arrived in Damascus for talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and representatives of the opposition, said he was“horrified” by the massacre of Hula , they have killed a hundred people, including fifty children. “I am personally shocked and horrified by the tragic events of two days ago,” Annan told reporters upon his arrival in Damascus, referring to the massacre carried out in Hula, the city center of Syria. “It ‘was an act ripugante, with profound consequences,” he added, saying that the UN will continue “to investigate attacks Hula”.

“I plan to have frank and serious discussions” with President Assad, said Annan, adding that he wanted to talk to “other actors” during his stay in the Syrian capital. International envoy to meet with “representatives of the opposition and civil society”, and General Robert Mood, head of the observer mission in Syria, has shown Ahmad Fawzi, Spokesman.

THE DEFENSE OF THE SCHEME – The Hula massacre blame Islamic militants: it is instead the Damascus regime of self-defense contained in a letter from Foreign Minister Muallem regime sent to the Security Council of the United Nations. The Foreign Ministry has denied that, as the UN and witnesses, there were tanks in the area.And in a letter to the Security Council, released by the official media, said that the Syrian army was “in a situation of self-defense against armed terrorist groups” composed of hundreds of men who, he claimed, had committed the massacre. According to the ministry, the killers used knives, which are a kind of ‘signature’ of attacks by Islamic militants.

UN Drug Guy Helps Pentagon Deflect Responsibility for Afghan Opium Onto the Feckless Hamid Karzai

US soldier patrolling the poppy fields.

Fields of opium poppy stretch in every direction as soldiers with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, conduct a patrol near the village of Mir Hotak, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, in May 2010. Documents obtained by Judicial Watch in April 2012 reportedly show that some Afghan recruits have been dealing drugs to U.S. soldiers for at least the past couple of years. Stars and Stripes file photo

UN drugs and crime official urges concerted effort against narcotics in Afghanistan

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov meets with President Hamid Karzai. Photo: UNAMA

Highlighting the importance of political commitment and action, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, today welcomed efforts by the Afghan Government to combat the menace of trafficking and production of narcotics in the country.

“I welcome the fact that the Government is working hard to counter the narcotics trade in the country, but there is also a need to do much more,” Mr. Fedotov said in a news release. “We must build the necessary political commitment, as well as practical action, to have tangible successes against the criminal networks that traffic in death and misery.”

Mr. Fedotov, who is visiting Afghanistan, discussed plans to boost national and regional efforts against narcotics with President Hamid Karzai today, and stressed that the principle of “shared responsibility” is the most effective way to counter the global problem of opiates originating from the country.

Both the national Government and provincial governors had a crucial role to play, he later added.

Afghanistan produces some 90 per cent of the world’s illicit opiates. UNODC’s Afghan Opium Survey from last year showed a dramatic 133 per cent increase in the farm-gate value of opium compared with 2010, as well as higher prices for the crop and a flourishing drugs trade.

Having launched earlier a new two-year Country Programme for Afghanistan in the capital, Kabul, Mr. Fedotov assured Mr. Karzai that UNODC remained committed to supporting to the country.

The Country Programme represents a concrete step forward towards strengthening the capacity of the Government to fight illicit drugs and crime, paving the way for long-term development, Mr. Fedotov said.

Its focus would primarily be on providing alternative livelihoods to households dependent on illicit crop cultivation; drug demand reduction; and drug-related HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

The programme would also contribute to the achievement of the wider objectives of the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries 2011-2014, a strategic framework for UNODC and multilateral partners to respond effectively to drug trafficking and organized crime.

UN Pushes Expansion of Role In C.A., Ignores American Military Responsibility for Opium In Afghanistan

UN anti-crime official highlights role of Central Asian cooperation in fighting drug trade

Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. UN Photo/R. Bajornas

With 90 per cent of the world’s illicit opiates being produced in Afghanistan, the neighbouring frontline states in Central Asia have a key role to play in tackling drug trafficking, the United Nations top anti-drugs and crime official said today, during a visit to Tajikistan.

The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, is in the Central Asian region as part of his Office’s efforts to ensure cooperative solutions to meeting such challenges.

While in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe, Mr. Fedotov met President Emomalii Rahmon to discuss national and regional efforts to address drug trafficking. In their meeting, Mr. Fedotov spoke of the “excellent cooperation” between his Office and the Tajik authorities in efforts to build peace and stability in the region, according to UNODC.

Ongoing collaboration was also discussed. Since 2000, UNODC has been working with Tajikistan in support of the country’s Drug Control Agency, and to strengthen controls along the Tajik-Afghan border through the provision of expertise, resources, equipment and training.

At a regional level, Tajikistan is also a partner in UNODC’s Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, which works to promote counter-narcotics cooperation in legal, health-related and law enforcement areas in West and Central Asia.

Stressing the importance of multi-country coordination, Mr. Fedotov noted after his meeting with President Rahmon that, “stopping the operations of the criminal groups responsible for this illicit trafficking is critical.”

“We must sever the financial arteries associated with trafficking which fuels other criminal activities, including, in some instances, terrorist activities and insurgencies,” he added.

While in the region, Mr. Fedotov also attended the Ministerial Meeting of the UNODC-supported ‘AKT Tripartite Initiative,’ which brings together the leading authorities in drug control from Afghanistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, as part of efforts to coordinate regional responses to an issue that defies national borders.

The TAPI Scam–Why Is India Boldly Taking Responsibility for the Pipeline That Will Never Be Built?

[Why are India’s leaders befouling their own reputation by fronting an American fraud, whose only outcome is the creation of false hope?  What does India have to gain by serving as a party to this intricate fraud?  India must reject these fraudulent American schemes before they can play-out, if they want to survive the major conflict which lies at the end of this road.  When Pakistan finally realizes that there is no gas coming from Turkmenistan, and they have allowed themselves to be blackmailed into rejecting Iranian gas, there will be hell to pay.  India will stand alone as the guilty party, at that time, to remind the Pak Establishment that India remains Enemy Number One.]

TAPI pipeline: Not a done deal, yet

Despite India, Pakistan and Turkmenistan signing an agreement for the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline, it faces many hurdles before it can become a reality, says Shebonti Ray Dadwal.

On May 23, GAIL India, Pakistan’s Inter State Gas Systems and Turkmenistan’s state gas company Turkmengaz signed the General Sales Purchase Agreements for the ambitious transcontinental gas pipeline project which would see Turkmen gas being delivered to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan in 2018.

Interestingly, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan signed only a MoU for cooperation in the gas sector, leaving the signing of a GSPA till negotiations on prices were agreed upon.

The 1,700-kilometre pipeline, once constructed, will transport some 90 billion cubic metres of gas per year for 30 years from Turkmenistan’s giant Galkynysh field to energy-hungry consumers in Pakistan and India as well as relieving shortages in Afghanistan.

Despite the euphoria and the media coverage, one can’t help but wonder whether the project will eventually see the light of day. No doubt, the fact that the project has received robust support from the US does allow for some optimism (the Baku-Tbilsi-Ceyhan pipeline was pushed through by Washington despite innumerable technical, commercial and security hurdles).

The US has done everything it could to ensure that the project becomes a reality, from getting the Asian Development Bank’s technical and financial support and projecting it as a harbinger of regional peace and prosperity, to thwarting the rival Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project.

Neither can one deny that when, and if, the pipeline is constructed, it will not only provide India with access to Central Asia’s vast energy resources, but will also allow the latter to diversify their market away from Russian and Chinese dominance.

Nevertheless, there are several reasons to believe that the project remains a chimera. First, the pipeline will go through 735 km in Afghanistan (Herat and Kandahar) and Pakistan’s Baluchistan (Quetta) which remain conflict-ridden, before going on to Multan and Fazilka in India.

After NATO exits post 2014, the instability in these regions may worsen, notwithstanding the Afghan government’s assurance of an ‘understanding’ being reached with the Taliban.

Second, in 2008, the project cost was estimated at $7.6 billion (about Rs 41,800 crore). By the time the pipeline is laid, the cost is expected to be around $10 billion to $12 billion (about Rs 55,000 crores to Rs 66,000 crores).

Moreover, India will have to pay almost $13/mmBtu ($9.7/mmBtu to Turkmenistan, 50 cents/mmBtu to Afghanistan and Pakistan as transit fees and $1.83/mmBtu as transportation charges), which is lower than the $16/mmBtu paid for imported LNG, but far higher than domestically produced gas at $4.20/mmBtu.

Moreover, although ADB has helped in coordinating and facilitating the project’s negotiation process over the past 10 years, it is funding only a small part of the project which has the onerous task of attracting commercial partners to build, finance and operate the pipeline, something that will be difficult given the unstable environment in which the pipeline will traverse.

Third, with India’s share of the piped gas being 38 million cubic metres — with Pakistan getting the same amount and Afghanistan getting 14 million cubic metres — it will do little to satisfy demand that is projected to reach some 473 million cubic metres by 2017.

Fourth, while British auditors Gaffney, Cline and Associates, has ranked the Galkynysh field the world’s second largest, with reserves pegged between 13.1-21.2 trillion cubic meters, doubts have been raised regarding Ashkabat’s ability to ensure uninterrupted supplies for 30 years, given that Turkmenistan has committed gas supplies to Iran, Russia and China.

In fact, during Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov’s visit to Beijing in November 2011, it was agreed that Turkmenistan would double supplies up to 65 billion cubic meters of gas annually to China.

Similarly, doubts have been raised regarding Turkmenistan’s ability to develop sufficient production, even if it does indeed have the requisite reserves, as well as develop its transport infrastructure, which is currently dependent on Russia’s pipeline infrastructure.

Fifth, the role of China and Russia as potential spoilers is an issue that needs to be looked at. Russia’s policy of using its pipeline network as an instrument to force recalcitrant neigbours to fall in line is well documented.

Moscow has often manipulated events to ensure that its former Soviet satellites do not succeed in gaining independent access to diverse markets. And with Gazprom having indicated its interest in being associated with the TAPI project, along with US firms ExxonMobil and Chevron, one cannot rule out Russian interference if Gazprom is not accommodated in the project.

At the same time, Beijing has made it clear that Central Asia is a key factor in its energy security policy and strategy, as it provides an alternative to its sea-based energy supplies. Like Russia, it may prefer the Central Asian countries to be dependent on its market. To ensure that it gets preference over other contenders, China has shown its readiness to pay premium prices for its energy supplies.

Given that pricing is a major factor in India’s energy import decisions, Beijing may exploit it as a means of weaning away the Central Asian suppliers from its South Asian competitors.

Sixth, for a pipeline project to be successful, four key elements are crucial: 1. A strong sponsor; 2. Sufficient reserves; 3. Economic and commercial viability and 4. A secure market. While TAPI has a strong sponsor in the US, the other three components have raised some concerns.

While Turkmenistan’s ability to ensure 30 years of supply is not assured, the project’s commercial viability is also in doubt.

Given the security of the TAPI project route, which in turn would necessitate an escalation in costs, it would make it very difficult to find any financier or insurance underwriter to participate in the project, US political support notwithstanding.

Moreover, even if the pipeline becomes a reality, it is likely to be a high-value target for religious extremists in Pakistan, who will ensure that no energy supply enters India through their territory.

And finally, with India perceived as a critical pillar of the project in terms of its market size, the pricing of the gas would be critical.

Given the disparity in pricing between domestic and imported gas, this could become a spoiler in the future, particularly if the price of gas falls in the international market due to the availability of abundant unconventional or shale gas in the near future.

Shebonti Ray Dadwal is an energy security specialist and a Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.