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Old Tuesday, August 07, 2012
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Geo strategic means the importance of a country or a region as by virtue of its geographical location. Geo political is defined as, stressing the influence of geographic factors on the state power, international conduct and advantages it derives from its location.

Stephen Cohn describes this importance

“While history has been unkind to Pakistan, its geography has been its greatest benefit. It has resource rich area in the north-west, people rich in the north-east.”

Pakistan is a junction of South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia, a way from resource efficient countries to resource deficient countries. The world is facing energy crisis and terrorism. Pakistan is a route for transportation, and a front line state against terrorism.

Geographical Importance:

Bridge between South Asia and South West Asia; Iran and Afghanistan are energy abundant while India and China are lacking of.
China finds way to Indian ocean and Arabian Sea through Korakaram. China with its fastest economic growth rate of 10%; is developing its southern provinces because its own port is 4500 km away from Sinkiang but Gawader is 2500 km away.

Pakistan offers to CARs the shortest route of 2600 km as compared to Iran (4500 km) or Turkey (5000 km).

land locked Afganistan now at the phase of Reconstruction, finds its ways through Pakistan..

Economic Blocs: SAARC, ASEAN, ECO. A link between them. Gawader port with its deep waters attracts the trade ships of China, CARs and South East Asian Countries

Gas pipelines:
1. IPI: Iran is struggling to export its surplus gas and oil to eastern countries. Pakistan would get 400 million dollar annually if IPI gets success.
2. Qatar Pakistan and Turkmenistan Pipeline project: highlights the position.
3. TAPI:
Mountain Ranges: Himalayas, Hindu Kush in the North are plentiful in providing water and natural resources.

Political importance:

US interests in the regions to contain the Growing China, nuclear Iran, terrorist Afghanistan, and to benefit from the market of India. Security and Business are two main US interests in the region while Pakistan is playing a front line role against terrorism.

Today the political scenario of the region is tinged with pre emption policy and US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear program, India’s geopolitical muscles(new strategic deal with US) to gain the hegemony and to counter the ‘The Rise of China’ which has earned all the qualities to change unipolar world into Bipolar world. In all these issues, Pakistan is directly or indirectly involved, especially after Al Qaeda operations.

The American think tanks have repeatedly accepted that war against terror could never be won without the help of Pakistan. Pakistan has rigorously fought, and ongoing military operation in Wazirstan is also targeting the suspected Taliban in the bordering area.

Main threats to Pakistan:

1. Balochistan and Wazirstan conflicts are posing threats to any economic project like IPI gas pipeline.
2. Negative role of India, US, Iran in this conflict ridden area.
3. Kashmir is flash point, accelerating nuclear race in the South Asia.
4. Instable governments in Pakistan have contributed in weakening the strong position.

(Geo-Strategic and Economic Importance of Gwader Port)

Gwadar is located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, close to the important Straits of Hormuz, through which more than 13 million bpd of oil passes. It is strategically located between three increasingly important regions of the world: the oil-rich Middle East, heavily populated South Asia and the economically emerging and resource-rich Central Asia.

To the Chinese, Gwadar spells bad economics (constructed with $200 mn, now GOP is trasnfering cargo from Karachi to Gwadar at $40 per ton extra charges - Forex Pak. $ 2bn needed to connect it with Pak industrial cities and $30 million per kilometer to China – Gilgit Baltistan Bulliten), premature geostrategic confrontation with the United States and the prospect of becoming the target of a burgeoning local insurgency that just might be receiving covert support from Washington and New Delhi.

Background (Sino-Pak):

Pakistan recognized China in 1951 and 1961 voted for restoration of Communist China’s rights in the UN. Sino Indian war 1962 culminated in close friendship; in 1963 an agreement on border was signed. Pakistan, during peak days of cold war (1970), facilitated visit of Henry Kissinger (US Foreign Secretary) to China. This led to Nixon’s visit to China which eased the rising tension between them.

Initially Pak-China’s strategic partnership was driven by the mutual need to counter the Soviet Union and India. China supported Pakistan in its wars against India with military and economic assistance. China assisted in developing Pakistan’s Nuclear Program, enhanced trade and investment.
Recent Developments:

• Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation signed in 2005  “Neither party will join any alliance which infringes upon the sovereignty, security ant territorial integrity.”
• China role in SCO and pak membership
• Trade: $ 6 bn in 2010 whereas likely to rise $ 10 bn by 2015
• China invested $13 bn in Gwadar

Geo-Political Importance Of Gawadar

1. Dubai is the hub of business not only for Gulf but also for rest of the world including Europe, United States, Africa, China and Central Asian States, simultaneously. The gulf region is facing many political conflicts at the moment and huge disturbances in the current administrative structure are expected in the coming years. In such a scenario, a substitute of Dubai is essential to be located before the crisis hits the finances of millions. The substitute shall be a nearest point probably, to ensure continuous supply line of oil from Gulf to the outer world. Fortunately, Gawadar proves to be the nearest and infact more cost-effective substitute of Dubai, from many aspects.

2. China is emerging as a super economic power of the world in the recent years. Despite occupying a huge area of world's land, it doesn't have any port of hot waters, which can be used the whole year. Gawadar port is only on a distance of 2500 km from China and the port is working for the whole year because of the hot waters here.

3. The central Asian states, after the independence from USSR, are trying to develop their economies. These states are land locked and Karachi was expected to provide them the services through Afghanistan. For the purpose, a highway from Peshawar to Karachi was constructed but due to Afghan crisis, this line couldn't be established. The Afghan situation is till not clear, so, Gawadar being near to Iranian border will provide port facilities to Central Asia as well.

Gwader- Strategic and Economic Interests of China:

Arrival of US troops in Afghanistan- doorstep of China that it agreed to construct Gwader port in 2002 and funded $ 198 million, with 450 workers and technical assistance, while Pakistan shared $ 50 million for phase 1.

Benefit to China: So Beijing will get considerable influence in the Persian Gulf, entrance to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, while closely monitor US naval activity and US Indian maritime cooperation. The port will enable China to monitor its energy shipments (60% of its oil need) from the Persian Gulf, and energy imports from Central Asia. Having no blue water navy, China feels defenseless in the Persian Gulf. President Mushraf’s statement, “when needed the Chinese Navy could be in Gwader to give befitting replies to every one.”

US, Iran, India: A report by Pentagon entitled ‘Energy Features in Asia’ states that Beijing has set up electronic spy posts at Gwader to monitor ship traffic. The Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea heightens India’s feeling of encirclement by China. Iran fears that the development of the port will undermine the value of its own ports as outlets to Central Asia’s exports.

Benefits for Pakistan:
1. The port will help integrate Pakistan into the Chinese economy by import and export through overland links that stretch across the Korakorum Highway.
2. Gwader would inhibit India’s ability to blockade Pakistan and permit China to supply Pakistan by land and sea during war time.
3. The Gwader area is rich in fisheries and the 600 km coastal line will boost fish export.

Importance of Gawadar

1. Gwader lying to close to the oil rich Gulf States- could be a potential source of off-shore gas and oil reserves.
2. Gwader as a trade Hub will enable the transfer of Central Asia’s vast energy to world markets, earning Pakistan transit charges and to investment.
3. Afghanistan will become beneficiaries for international trade to get trasit fee to Central Asia.
4. The oil supply during Iraq-Iran and Iraq-Kowait war was stopped; Gawadar is a best solution
5. Cargo handling capacity of 100,000 tons


Finally, Pakistan would have to work the completion of necessary infrastructure to support these plans; it needs effective diplomacy, economic stability with improved Center-Province relationship. Balochistan continues to be crippled by violence with Baloch nationals protesting against the construction of the port supported by Indian elements.
Ahmad Shakeel Babar
"If you really want to achieve something the whole universe conspires for you to get your dream realized."
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