Sub-Continent comprises of seven states (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives). Over the total area of South Asia, which is 5,134,641, square kilometres, Pakistan covers 881,913 square kilometres (including Indian Occupied Kashmir). Pakistan is ranked 2nd in South Asia and 33rd on the globe, concerning the area. It is 2nd biggest population of South Asia and ranked as the 5th biggest population of the world. Pakistan due to its geopolitical and geostrategic location has been the centre of focus for power players of the world.
With the wind-up of ideological war between the United States and the Soviet Union and the fall of later (Soviet Union) and annihilation of communist ideology, the chances of a global war have decreased, but tensions in the global context and regional frictions have not mitigated. The unipolar world has been susceptible to compulsion through expulsive and economic diplomatic manoeuver. Regrettably, in contemporary times, hostilities conducted by the United States of America along with western bloc against the Muslim world have increased. The global context is in continuous change with dynamic geostrategic and geopolitical preferences. With the end of the bipolar world and the advent of unipolar with the United States as a sole superpower, standard amends within the significance of geo-economics, geo-strategy, influencing part of non-state actors, Islamophobia, Nuclear non-proliferation, numerous other issues have entailed a re-conceptualization of state-to-state correspondence.
Pakistan being most important due to its geostrategic and geopolitical location has formulated its preferences and manage relations with other regional and exterritorial states. It is solely up to Pakistani’s to utilize and manipulate the ball game to the greater good of their country.
Associated with International Politics in terms of Geographic location.
Associated with strategic resolutions of geopolitical affairs.
In terms of somatic attributes of territory on the Earth.
It is the most indistinct term in international relations and consequently taken liberties with, peculiarly by the political elite. This notion grabbed the scholar’s attention after World War II (Martin Griffiths, 2007). It means ceaselessness of the preservation of physical, political, and ethnic recognition against infiltrations by other states.
The act or situation of constraining or being constrained to carry out some task.
A cut-throat situation or a decisive brawl in terms of capacity, capability, and potentiality.
Stockpile, which exists without any endeavour of mortals
Pakistan came into existence after the division of colonial India, which was ruled by the United Kingdom, into two independent states (India and Pakistan) in 1947 on the foundation of the two-nation theory, following the climax of World War II. Right from the year of independence both the successor states have conflicted over the Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and have indulged in four major wars (The First Kashmir War 1947-48, Second Kashmir War 1965, Indo-Pakistani War 1971 and Kargil Conflict 1999) and numerous border engagements. Pakistan (latitude: 23⁰ 35’ to 37⁰ 05’ north. Longitude: 60⁰ 50’ to 77⁰ 50’ minutes east) borders with India, China, Afghanistan, and Iran.
Pakistan reposes in the temperate zone, in the north of tropic of Cancer, so the climate is more often than not arid, distinguished by hot summers and chilly winters, and wide range of dissimilarities between utmost temperatures at specified whereabouts. This is the reason, in southern Pakistan, there are deserts like; Thar, Kharan, Thal, and the Cholistan, while in the northern Pakistan rain forests can be observed. Pakistan is rich in natural resources including agricultural territory, forests, minerals, animal resources, sea, and rivers. Pakistan shares its border with the Arabian Sea in the south which is strategically important as it is connected with the Persian Gulf and Indian Oceans. Pakistan is blessed with having deepest seaport in the world, Gwadar port, which is not more than 500 nautical miles away from Strait of Hormuz.
Compared to the other South Asian States, Pakistan is privileged with a more significant geostrategic location as it furnishes a direct avenue to energy-rich Iran and Central Asian Republics and is situated at the junction of the continents. Pakistan plays a fundamental role in projects like CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), CASA (Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission), IPI (Iran Pakistan India gas pipeline), APTTA (Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement), TAPI (Trans Afghan Pakistan India gas pipeline), and other energy and trade agreements.
- What is the geostrategic location of Pakistan?
- What are the geostrategic compulsions on Pakistan?
- How can Pakistan peruse its national policy while facing those compulsions?
Pakistan due to its geographic, geopolitical, and geostrategic location has played a chief role on the global scene since 1947 and the Foreign Policy of Pakistan has been steered by these factors. Situated at Carrefour of the Middle East and South Asia, reasonably adjacent to the USSR and Europe, Pakistan transpired as a prospective link between Persian Gulf, East Asia, and the West, besides a passage to Muslim World. Soon after independence, the government encountered an obstacle to secure survival and to get grips with power imbalance in the region while lacking supplies and gadgetry.
This requirement impelled Pakistan to look towards the United States of America. The US provided aid to Pakistan for development and strengthening its military profile and in return it demanded Pakistan to be a part of an alliance of Asian countries to hold back Soviet expansionist policies in Asia. Pakistan became a part of SEATO 1954 after signing Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement and CENTO in 1955. By CENTO Pakistan also developed a friendship with Muslim states like Iran and Turkey.
By 1957, Pakistan had developed its military strength by supplying arms, military technology, including hi-tech long-distance radars, tanks, helicopters, frigates, and Gazi submarine. In exchange, the US acquired territorial privileges and stationed its top-secret surveillance base in the disguise of a transmission centre close by Peshawar to trace Soviet and Chinese schemes.
This alliance projected not a very good image of Pakistan and it was then looked on as “messenger of imperialist powers” by the Islamic World especially by Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. Most importantly this alliance did not receive positive public feedback. This alliance brought heavy consequences in the form of a breakup of Pakistan in 1971 when India was heavily supported by the Soviet Union while the US ignored Pakistan. After the 1971 war Soviet Union tried to escalate tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan over the Pushtoonistan issue.
In 1979 Soviet-Afghan War Pakistan played a key role. Instantly after the Soviet-Afghan War, the US provided back door support to Mujahidin by supplying military aid, training, funding, and equipping them with state of art gadgetry with the help of Pakistan. ISI and CIA managed training camps in tribal areas where they provided guerilla and weapon handling training to Mujahidin. This war continued until the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1989.
Right after the crises of 9/11, terrorism had become a dilemma in international relations and world politics. With the rise of terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Taliban, global peace had come to the verge of destruction. The US held al-Qaeda accountable for the 9/11 attacks and pioneered a crusade against them and Pakistan became a non-NATO organ to US-marshalled “War on Terror”. Compared to other members, Pakistan’s contributions played a significant role in this campaign in the matter of access: sea, land and air, surveillance, planning, and execution.
Association with the Global War on Terror received a negative response from the public of Pakistan as well. Pakistan became a breeding ground for proxy warfare due to numerous extraneous influences. Terrorist organizations attempted to stimulate sectarian and public divisions.
Pakistan stationed a whole slew of troops along the Durand line to aid “Operation Enduring Freedom” and engaged a greater proportion of its logistical supply to keep-up the alliance. OEF received significant support from the international community and Pakistan also cleared its image at the international scene.
History of Pakistan is full of adventures and endeavours to attain stability and maximize its security to protect its sovereignty, counter Indian hegemony in the region and deter prevailing threats by counterparts. But endeavours and adventures have not come to an end as Pakistan is still struggling with various challenges due to its geostrategic location.
Geostrategic importance of Pakistan
Whether observed, this entire region is identical to a funnel. The pinnacle of the funnel is CARs and western Part of China, while it narrows on by Afghanistan and Pakistan and ending at Gwadar port. In the future, this funnel will prove to be an economic funnel of the entire region.
Pakistan is endowed by 1100 km long frontier with the sea, extending to the west and south-east axis. More or less 36000 ships pass across Pakistan’s sphere of activity every year. 95% of total yearly trade occurs through the sea (Karachi steers 68% while 32% is handled by Port Qasim). Pakistan due to little strategic depth (east-to-west) has been endangered by a potential Indian attack. Gwadar Port, 460 kilometres away from Karachi and additionally distant from India, reduces that vulnerability to a great extent. with the help of Gwadar, Pakistan will be able to surveil on the “SLOCs” (Sea Lines of Communications) emerging from the “Persian Gulf” and “Strait of Hormuz”. Pakistan’s bases of operation of the naval fleet at “Gwadar” and “Ormara” along with Chinese Naval fleets will be able to build Pak-China Naval nexus and will hold India from emerging as a Bluewater navy and restrict its naval exercises in the Indian Ocean.
Strategically Gwadar is a potential fulcrum of transit. However, this unprecedented fulcrum transit in modern-day global order could be viewed as a juncture of contradictory interests like contrasting interests of CARs, China, and the US and differing interests of UAE and Iran. In any way, if Malacca Strait is choked by the US in the future, Gwadar can furnish substitute routes for Chinese commerce in the Indian Ocean and western regions of Asia. Gwadar is an apparent rival seaport for the Gulf States in the territory.
Globalization has triggered significant changes in the world economy and created economic interdependence, and due to this maritime commerce has increased notably. The Gwadar port inaugurated in 2002 and became functional in 2008. It has various prospects: located in the neighbourhood of SLOCs, it is reasonably distant from India, extends natural shield against weather, and it is a portal to Strait of Hurmuz.
Pakistan is more often regarded as “Crises-State”, as it has been continuously going through unprecedented challenges, but it has been irrepressible and has traversed through those challenges successfully. Yet there is no end to the emergence of new challenges with every step forward, as the geopolitical and strategic location has persisted as a blessing as well as an obstacle. The state’s strategic overview of security and intelligence is based on a complicated network of economic, military, social, and political factors. The administration of each of the key factors of national power may lead, in the best-case scenario, to opportunities or otherwise vulnerabilities.
With the 7th largest military and 6th largest population in the world, Pakistan is the medium-sized power of the South Asian region. Being blessed with a huge amount of natural resources, important geopolitical location, and extensive potential and capability, Pakistan has been counterbalanced due to week monitory growth, financial mismanagement, corruption, and incompetence. The most important of all the changes in the management of finances and setting the economy on tenable growth. A good economy will also prove to be key to an effective defence against progressively complex security challenges in the future, especially the Indian policy of dominating south Asian region and maritime trade routes of the Indian Ocean.
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Pakistan has been successful in curbing terrorist activities in the past few years; with the efforts and sacrifices of armed forces. But the security threat from the eastern neighbour remains persistent, who wants to attain a powerful position in global politics. During the past decade, India has kept on investing in arms and has been a top net buyer of conventional military equipment.
Pakistan has always been threatened by ethnic, sectarian, and ideological crises within the state mainly due to severe communication gaps and 5th generation war strategies of India and other neighbouring states.
Pakistan can assume a successful job in the Third World territorial framework. Pakistan is a geostrategic territory with tremendous potential and conceivable outcomes. It is an unquestionable truth that the control of strategic ways, ashore and ocean, is much of the time signature to the solidarity of geostrategic areas. Such geostrategic zones incorporate strategic entries that are administered by Pakistan. They are the land courses to the “warm waters in the Arabian Sea”; access to the “Indic Ocean”; land transit routes connecting Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Russia, and China; gateways into the South Asian Subcontinent and the Indic Ocean; the Silk Route and the Karakorum Highway (KKH); the RCD Rail-interface and the RCD Highway.
Oil-rich Iran guards the Gulf and the Afro-Asian Ocean. Afghanistan has been a buffer state until recently. Put together, these form an indispensable link with the oil-producing regions of the Middle East, the Muslim World, Afro-Asia and the entire Third World, including the littoral states of the Afro-Asian Ocean. Pakistan, thus, is far more important in terms of geostrategic location than India, the latter’s size, population, and military might notwithstanding. Propelled by dynamic, illuminated, compassionate and libertarian Islam, Pakistan can act, not just as an integrated buffer zone of harmony, but as the mover and shaker of the whole South Asian Region and a motivating companion of the Third World. In this manner, Pakistan can assume a viable job in joining the Third World and in protecting it as an atomic free zone of harmony.
The circumstances in Pakistan today are at once favourable and unstable. Socio-political polarization and progressive potential make it dangerous. Pakistani society is essentially esteem arranged yet befuddled. The most ideal approach to forestall any probable future disaster is to willingly choose on a vote based, dynamic, tranquil, and brotherly populist society.
This requires a down to earth way to deal with the undertakings standing up to the country. At the cost of adequacy in strategy is everlasting watchfulness to the progressions which are fretfully functioning in the political issues of the world.
Pakistan has entered the most crucial moment, and now it is compulsory to learn from the bitter past and be prepared to face the challenges in the future. To manage future challenges, it is required to know the evolutionary complexion of development and good perception of policy choices.
Rapidly proliferating globalization has both positive and negative aspects and it keeps on posing versatile challenges to public policy, which must be dealt with now and years to come.
To strengthen economy export must be increased on a prior basis. And for this expansion zonal incorporation must be established with neighbouring states, which is possible by mutual trade, concept common good and mitigating tensions, and strengthening diplomatic ties with neighbouring countries.
Development of interdisciplinary perspective that brings together democracy, efficient economic system communal development to such a degree to set out empowerment of commonality. Just that can give protection from domestic and global stuns and make the open doors for the cooperation of all in a sustainable monetary expansion.
There is a huge hole between the public policies reported and their genuine ground-level execution. The absence of coordination between various degrees of government and between various government offices and civil society is a significant lacuna for which remedial estimates must be given.
The Author is Research Scholar at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.