What Awaits Pakistan First?
By Safdar Jafri
Balkanization of Pakistan has been a topic of writings and political discussions for long. Reason: ever present and growing separatist tendencies in three of country's four provinces. But recently, another rather more frightening future has been predicted for Pakistan by some experts; Talibanization along the lines of what existed in pre-9/11 days in Afghanistan. Reason: phenomenal growth of militancy inside Pakistan backed by either Pakistan's army establishment and/or the US. Pakistan may be behind this because it may still view Afghanistan as strategically too important to have a pro-Indian government there, particularly if the US packs up and leaves the war against terrorism campaing in the middle due to its growing domestic crisis.
US may be backing the militants for still more sinister reasons; devising a huge, ideologically destructive enemy that kills more of its own people than its claimed enemies (which is exactly what Al Qaida and Taliban seem to be doing if you simply count the casualties in Afghanistan, Iraq and more recently in Pakistan) and thereby helps the US achieve two key objectives:
1. Weaken the governments in the region by causing bloodshed and chaos (we are are already seeing that in action) and in the process also give the US forces to continue their stay as well as decimate the population (people will either die or flee as in Afghanistan and Iraq) which will make a takeover by the US smooth and easy for subsequent exploitation of both the resources (oil, gas and what not !) . By the same token, it will also give the US the control of strategic geographic locations. Interesting to note here that US has not taken a penny from the oil revenues of Iraq so far but as the country gets empty of humans and US seeks to overcome its growing economic crisis, a very good reason will automatically present itself that war cost is taken out of Iraq's own budget. We can already hear talk of such a proposal in the media.
2. Contain both India and China. First, remember there are huge Muslim populations in both India and China. Some of them with deep separatist tendencies that simply require a bit of stoking an faning and proper secret backing such as Kashmir in India and XinXiang province in China. Interesting, Pakistan has borders with both these troubled regions of US's two greatest economic rivals and that's partly the reason that Pakistan will be crucial if such a plan is on the anvil for the US authorities. We can already find stuff in the news of growing militant terrorist attacks inside the Indian heartland as well as in Kashmir and also growing separatist activites in XinXiang province of China which are all clearly drawing support from somewhere big.
The question therefore we should be asking in the above background is: will Pakistan balkanize first or will it be talibanized first and then balkanized ? Given the above assumptions are true (and from looking at the facts pointed out above they are quite plausible), then talibanization will come first. If the US is playing a double game with Pakistan (btw, we are not ruling out that Pakistan may be doing the same in its own game plan), then whatever the government of Pakistan does will benefit the US long term plan. If it strikes the militants that are hiding in its northern terrority along the border with Afghanistan, then it will alienate and weaken its public support inside the country where a people are increasingly accusing it of serving the US interests. US on the other hand will increase its assumed covert support of the Islamic militants in the area which will create even more bloodshed and chaos in the country. If Pakistan withdraws from its sworn alliance with the US, then the talibanization will simply get on the fast track. The militants will continue to receive the high tech weaponry and support from the US and soon they will be walking over Islamabad and take over the control.
In my reading and assessment of the situation, Pakistan will first experience denuclearization in the wake of growing insecurity in the country followed by talibanization which will be followed by large scale bloodshed, chaos and disappearance of central governance in exactly the same fashion as it happened in Afghanistan, which is also an informal kind of balkanization as there will be no functioning government in the country. The formal balkanization will take place afterwards as the US takes control of various strategic regions such as Baluchistan in the south west (a resource-rich vast province bordering Iran and also sitting at the edge of Persian Gulf; Baluchistan and its political and strategic significance will be discussed in a later article) and Kashmir plus northern areas of Pakistan that have borders with India and China as well as Afghanistan. Capture of Baluchistan will help the US control the oil and gas supply to India for which India is becoming increasingly restless (e.g. the proposed gas pipeline from Iran to India has to pass through Baluchistan). Capture of Kashmir will help the US to tame India and subsequently, even break it, if the militants and separatist in Kashmir are handled well.
Similarly, capture of the northern areas bordering China will help the US to literally be at the doorstep of its biggest economic rival and create both chaos by covertly supporting the separatists and militants in XinXiang province as well as rule out any possibility of China ever having direct access to the warm waters of the Gulf and Middle Eastern markets which it may have if Pakistan continues to provide it access to its new Gawadar port in Baluchistan province. Many have argued that Benazir was actually assasinated through a US consipracy (most probably with assistance from Pakistan intelligence agencies and the army) because it suspected that she was likely to betray the US after coming to power and giving China a thoroughfare through Pakistan landscape to Persian Gulf to reach the middle eastern markets. Some experts have also that this precisely was the fear from the ex-President and General Pervez Musharaf who was also eliminated with a plan and with an excuse that he failed to act against the growing terrorism effectively or was playing a double game with the US.
The fact that in the next few years the map of West Asia is quite likely to change and that Pakistan will be at the forefront in this upcoming change makes the entire game of politics very interesting for the analysts. There will be growing choas, bloodshed, breakaway regions, militancy and above all, most certainly greater US presence in the region in the days to come.
As the chaos and insecurity grows in Pakistan, the above conspiracy theory if you may call it is proving to be increasingly justified and true. Only a dramatic turn in events such as a concerted radical anti-militancy action by Pakistan government with the support of the US can avert a catastrophic downward spiral for the country.