If we look at it realistically, the sanctity of International borders is wishful thinking. Whereas it is also a reality that countries have gone to war to defend their territorial integrity, and paramountcy of their internationally recognized borders, in many cases they have failed. The sanctity of International borders becomes wishful thinking when nations take their sovereignty for granted. International borders are like a membrane. They keep expanding and contracting as a result of foreign interventions, internecine conspiracies, and lack of cohesion among various ethnic and social groups, as recently pointed out by U.S president Joe Biden. Instead of flaring up and panicking at Biden’s remarks, we should take stock of our vulnerabilities and try to rectify them. National sovereignty is to be jealously guarded. It should never be taken for granted.
After WW II, Pakistan was the only country that was dismembered as a result of foreign political and military intervention. Crowning upon “kicking out Pakistan from South East Asia”, Swaran Singh, the Indian foreign minister, remarked that Indira Gandhi had changed the geography of the Indian Sub-continent. How did we enable Indians to jeer at us, something they are doing even half a century after dismembering Pakistan?
Understanding the matter better
Starting in 1947, the elite in both wings had gradually lost their romance with a united Pakistan and were looking for an excuse to get rid of each other. The separatist tendency in East Pakistan found open expression and was translated by the Bengali intelligentsia into a popular movement, abetted strongly by India. That the West Pakistani centers of power, particularly the Punjabi and Sindhi feudal class, had also gravitated towards separating the two wings, is generally ignored.
The outcome of the 1971 War was foretold. Pakistani leadership had been divorced from reality. No Borrowed Power was available to Pakistan, either from the United States or from China, whereas India enjoyed full support from the Soviet Union. The dice were heavily loaded against Pakistan. That was the time when the Pakistani decision-makers, instead of remaining in a state of limbo, should have tried to reach a rapprochement with Sheikh Mujibur Rehman who was in a Pakistani jail. Instead, they waited for a hallucinatory Seventh Fleet.
The author has read the transcripts of the telephone conversations between Nixon and Kissinger during the 71 War. He appreciates the magnanimity of the United States when Nixon told Kissinger to expedite the transfer of a few F-5 fighter aircraft from Jordan to Pakistan. For the Pakistani public, however, nothing else could have created greater humor. And the language Nixon used in these conversations against Indira Gandhi was unbecoming of any self-respecting man.
During the 1971 War, India used the instrument of psychological war to subvert East Pakistan, which was 1000 miles away from West Pakistan with a sea in between and surrounded by India from three sides. But for the Indian-trained 2,87000 strong Bengali rebels who engaged Pakistani forces in high-intensity insurgency for nine months, all-out support of the former Soviet Union and the deleterious role of USA, Indian ten divisions together with 32 BSF battalions and Mukti Bahinis backed by massive artillery, tank, air, and naval support could not have defeated the marooned force of 34000 regular troops and 11000 paramilitary forces devoid of air and armor support and cut off from rest of the world. To glamorize its so-called victory, Indian writers have been repeatedly mentioning a false figure of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendering to Indian forces.
The magical figure of 9300 POWs was provided to the Indians by none other than the eternal Zulfiqar Bhutto (who refuses to die). The military defeat in 1971 had its root cause in the political instability that nurtured a sense of deprivation among the Bengalis.
During the campaign that preceded the 1970 general elections, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman repeatedly termed East Pakistan a colony of West Pakistan. The economic exploitation of East Pakistan, combined with the absence of democratic rule, was instrumental in the breakup of Pakistan in December 1971. Look what Balochistan National Party (BNP) President, and former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal, has been saying during the last many years! In his various speeches, Mengal has claimed that Balochistan is no longer treated as a federating unit of Pakistan and its status has been reduced to that of a colony. We lost East Pakistan as a result of our intrinsic weaknesses that were exploited by India. Are we now proceeding toward the second partition of Pakistan?
The tendency to centralize all the powers at the centre bred resentment and a sense of deprivation among the federating units which was exploited by the other side. Like the tribal societies elsewhere, Balochistan was a confederacy where different tribes were ruled by the local chieftains called sardars.
The amalgamation of Balochistan in Pakistan in March 1948 had cut through the vested interests of the sardars. Suddenly, their world collapsed. Their resistance to Pakistan was understandable. The insurgencies that kept sweeping Balochistan from time to time were essentially a power struggle between the local sardars and the rulers in Karachi, and later Islamabad, to control the resources of this province. The commoners were exploited and hoodwinked by both sides. When the Baloch sardars talk about the rights of the Baloch people, they mean themselves.
All the cultivable land, water resources, and grazing grounds are the private property of these chieftains. The common man ekes out a miserable life in Balochistan. On the other hand, when the central government talks about developing Balochistan, it means grabbing lucrative contracts to line the pockets of politicians and bureaucrats. But the common Balochi is disillusioned from Pakistan even as the common Bengali was hoodwinked by the Awami League-led Bengali intelligentsia. This situation is compounded by a sham democracy that feeds itself upon corruption and political wheeling and dealing.
To conclude, I’ll again mention Ralph Walter’s Blood Borders Map
The proposed map conforms to the proxy wars waged by the US and its allies in the Eurasian landmass for the last almost half a century. It envisages a Kurdish state carved out from the Kurd-dominated areas of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Kurds were promised a state of their own by the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Whereas the agreement was successful in drawing boundaries of the modern Arab states, and whereas it fulfilled the promise made by Britain, through the Belfour Declaration, to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, the promise for a Kurdish state remained unfulfilled.
Read more: 1965 War: The Air and Naval Battle
It is also in the interests of the US, its European allies, and India, that a greater Balochistan state is established incorporating Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan. The present US-Iran rift over Iran’s nuclear program and the slow-burning proxy war going on in Pakistani Balochistan should be viewed in this context.
As for the Arab monarchies, they exist because they fulfill the present global order determined by the US. One day these monarchies will outlive their utility to the US. As the expatriate populations increase, and as the local population clamors for increased human rights and freedom, the US, may contrive mass uprisings in the Gulf similar to the Srilanka civil war choreographed by India during the 1980s.
The blood borders map shows AJK, GB, and KPK as parts of a greater Afghanistan. However, there may be a variation. Till a pliant regime is installed, the greater Afghanistan plan will be put on hold. There is a likelihood that GB will become part of Indian Held Kashmir because India is being projected as a strategic ally of the US. These are the secret plans being implemented through proxy insurgencies while the target states remain embroiled in regional disputes.
Saleem Akhtar Malik is a Pakistan Army veteran who writes on national and international affairs, defense, military history, and military technology. He Tweets at @saleemakhtar53. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.