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GEO-STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE OF PAKISTAN

1. INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS GEO-STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE? Geo-strategic significance means the importance of a country with respect to its geographical location. Whereas geo political importance is defined as, stressing the influence of geographic factors on the state power, international conduct and advantages it derives from its location. Sullivan writes, Geo-politics is the study of the geography of relations between wielders of power, be they rulers of nations or of transnational bodies. A place could be strategically important for different reasons like: Owing nearness to strategic location, such as choke points on major sea route On crossroads of great powers Immediacy to mineral rich areas May be reservoir of strategic minerals, like oil, iron, uranium ores etc. Large dealer of food. The elements of geography and politics, or the geo-politics deeply influence the policy-making and conditions of a state in international affairs. The geo-politics and geo-strategy are applied to evaluate the strategic importance of a state.

2. GEO STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE OF PAKISTAN Pakistan enjoys great geo strategic significance by virtue of its geographical location. Pakistan is located at a region which has great political, economic and strategic location. Stephen Cohn describes the importance of Pakistan, While history has been unkind with Pakistan, its geography has been its greatest benefit. Pakistan's geostrategic location has made it a country of pivotal importance from the Cold War to the present day. Geography not only shapes Pakistan's foreign policy, but also its defense considerations and strategic outlook. Pakistan is considered as a window of strategic opportunity. Pakistans crucial position in South Asia, with its proximity to the Arabian Peninsula and access to the Horn of Africa and Central Asia makes it a strategically attractive and unavoidable state for global and regional powers.

3. PAKISTAN GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION AND BOUNDARIES: Pakistan is located in the North Western part of the South Asian subcontinent. Pakistan occupies a position of great geostrategic importance, bordered by Iran on the West, Afghanistan on the North West, China on the North East, India on the East, and the Arabian Sea on the South. The total land area is estimated at 803,940 square kilometers.

a. BOUNDARY WITH IRAN The boundary with Iran, some 800 kilometers in length, was first delimited by a British Commission in 1893, separating Iran from what was then British Indian Baluchistan. In 1957, Pakistan signed a frontier agreement with Iran, and since then the border between the two countries has not been a subject of serious dispute. b. BOUNDARY WITH AFGHANISTAN Pakistan's boundary with Afghanistan is about 2,250 kilometers long. In the north, it runs along the ridges of the Hindu Kush (meaning Hindu Killer) mountains and the Pamirs, where a narrow strip of Afghan territory called the Wakhan Corridor extends between Pakistan and Tajikistan.

The boundary line with Afghanistan was drawn in 1893 by Sir Mortimer Durand, then foreign secretary in British India, and was acceded to by the amir of Afghanistan that same year. This boundary, called the Durand Line, was not in doubt when Pakistan became independent in 1947, although its legitimacy was in later years disputed periodically by the Afghan government as well as by Pakhtun tribes straddling the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. On the one hand, Afghanistan claimed that the Durand Line had been imposed by a stronger power upon a weaker one, and it favored the establishment of still another state to be called Pashtunistan or Pakhtunistan. On the other hand, Pakistan, as the legatee of the British in the region, insisted on the legality and permanence of the boundary. The Durand Line remained in effect in 1994. Now, the US and NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan are well aware that they are heavily dependent on Pakistan for winning the war in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has other neighbours also such as Iran, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, but Pakistan provides the easiest route for the provision of NATO supplies to the forces in Afghanistan. Moreover, being a land locked country; Afghanistan has to rely heavily on Pakistan for its cross border trade and economy. c. BOUNDARY WITH CHINA From the eastern end of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, a boundary of about 520 kilometers runs generally southeast between China and Pakistan, ending near the Karakoram Pass. This line was determined from 1961 to 1965 in a series of agreements between China and Pakistan. By mutual agreement, a new boundary treaty is to be

negotiated between China and Pakistan when the dispute over Kashmir is finally resolved between India and Pakistan. China is the upcoming superpower both in economic and military terms. In the times to come, it is likely to be the only rival of the US economically as well as militarily. China naturally seeks closer ties with Pakistan. Furthermore, for its rapidly flourishing international trade, China looks towards Pakistan for giving it an easy access to the Muslim countries of Central Asia and the Middle East. It is worth remembering that sea transport is 10 times cheaper than the land transport. Realizing this fact, China has invested heavily in the Gwadar Port Project. China is fully aware of its potential economic and commercial benefits. It is generally believed that Kashmir is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. But it is not known to many people that some mountainous snow clad unpopulated area of Kashmir near Siachin Glacier is under Chinese control. Thus, China is also a party to the Kashmir dispute and there can be no just, permanent and comprehensive settlement of the dispute without active participation of China. d. BOUNDARY WITH INDIA In the northeastern tip of the country, Pakistan controls about 84,159 square kilometers of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. This area, consisting of Azad Kashmir (11,639square kilometers) and most of the Northern Areas (72,520 square kilometers), which includes Gilgit and Baltistan, is the most visually stunning of Pakistan. The Northern Areas has five of the world's seventeen highest mountains. It also has such extensive glaciers that it has sometimes been called the "third pole." The boundary line has been a matter of pivotal dispute between Pakistan and India since 1947, and the Siachen Glacier in northern Kashmir has been an important arena for fighting between the two sides since 1984, although far more soldiers have died of exposure to the cold than from any skirmishes in the conflict. The Pakistan-India cease-fire line runs from the Karakoram Pass west-southwest to a point about 130 kilometers northeast of Lahore. This line, about 770 kilometers long, was arranged with United Nations (UN) assistance at the end of the IndoPakistani War of 1947-48. The cease-fire line came into effect on January 1, 1949, after eighteen months of fighting and was last adjusted and agreed upon by the two countries in the Simla Agreement of July 1972. Since then, it has been generally known as the Line of Control. The Pakistan-India boundary continues irregularly southward for about 1,280 kilometers, following the line of the 1947 Radcliffe Award, named for Sir Cyril Radcliffe, the head of the British boundary commission on the partition of Punjab and Bengal in 1947. Although this boundary with India is not formally disputed, passions still run high on both sides of the border. Many Indians had expected the original boundary line to run farther to the west, thereby ceding Lahore to India; Pakistanis had expected the line to run much farther east, possibly granting them control of Delhi, the imperial capital of the Mughal Empire. The southern borders are far less contentious than those in the north. The Thar Desert in the province of Sindh is separated in the south from the salt flats of the Rann of Kutch by a boundary that was first delineated in 1923-24. After partition, Pakistan contested the southern boundary

of Sindh, and a succession of border incidents resulted. They were less dangerous and less widespread, however, than the conflict that erupted in Kashmir in the IndoPakistani War of August 1965. These southerrn hostilities were ended by British mediation, and both sides accepted the award of the Indo-Pakistan Western Boundary Case Tribunal designated by the UN secretary general. The tribunal made its award on February 19, 1968, delimiting a line of 403 kilometers that was later demarcated by joint survey teams. Of its original claim of some 9,100square kilometers, Pakistan was awarded only about 780 square kilometers. Beyond the western terminus of the tribunal's award, the final stretch of Pakistan's border with India is about 80 kilometers long, running west and southwest to an inlet of the Arabian Sea. Pakistans eastern neighbour India with its huge market and its nuclear capability is also ambitious of becoming a global power with a permanent seat in the Security Council. There is also apprehension that the prevailing regional instability may lead to more violence and terrorism in India as well. 4. GEO POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF PAKISTAN The world is facing terrorism. Pakistan is a front line state against terrorism. The geo political significance of Pakistan has attracted the attention of major global players. Pakistan is located at the junction of great powers. Located at the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent; Pakistan is a neighbour to the growing China, the nuclear Iran, terrorist Afghanistan and the favorable market of India. In its neighbors, one world power Russia and the other emerging power China lie. Any alliance among world powers enhances Pakistans significance further. At present, security and business are two main interests of the USA in the region while Pakistan is playing a front line role and a major non NATO ally in the war against terrorism. The world is aware of the fact that war against terrorism could never be won without the help of Pakistan. Iran's nuclear ambitions and the growing consensus among the Great Powers to curb these ambitions boost the geostrategic value of Pakistan in the region. 6. BRIDGE BETWEEN SOUTH ASIA AND SOUTH WEST ASIA: GATEWAY TO

CENTRAL ASIA Pakistan is at junction of South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia. Pakistan can be a bridge and gateway for the countries in South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia. It is at way from resource efficient countries to resource deficient countries in these regions. Central Asia is at a center stage of new Great Game because of the western quest for resources like oil and energy. After the disintegration of USSR, new quest has started which is clearly manifested by politics of oil. Pakistan is also located very close to the oil rich Middle Eastern countries. The belt started from Iran and extended to Saudi Arabia.

Thus, Pakistan can influence shipment of oil. Iran is struggling to export its surplus gas and oil to the eastern countries. Qatar, Pakistan and Turkmenistan pipeline projects highlight the position. In the energy scarce world, Pakistan is located at the hub of energy rich countries like Iran and Afghanistan: both are energy abundant while India and China are lacking. China finds way to the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea through Karakoram highway. The present era is an era of regionalism which focuses on regional interconnectivity and interdependence of countries located in any region. Pakistan has great importance in enhancing regional connectivity among various blocks like ECO, SAARC, SCO etc. and can in a way serve as a gateway and bridge among regional countries. 7. SIGNIFICANCE AS A TRANSIT ECONOMY OR TRADE CORRIDOR:

Pakistan has the potential to develop as a transit economy on account of its strategic location. Afghanistan which is a land locked country is passing through the phase of reconstruction finds its ways through Pakistan. China with its fastest economy growth rate of 9% us developing southern provinces because its own part is 4500 km away from Sinkiang but Gwader is 2500 km away. Moreover, Pakistan offers central Asian regions the shortest route of 2600 km as compared to Iran 4500 km or turkey 5000 km. Gwader port with its deep waters attracts the trade ships of China, CAR and south east Asian countries., also the coastal belt of Balochistan can provide outlet to Chinas western provinces to have access to middles eastern markets with the development of coastal highways and motorways. Importance of Pakistan with respect to trade

Arabian_Sea_map from commons.wikimedia.org

Pakistan has an access to the warm waters through the Arabian Sea. It can trade throughout the year through the Arabian Sea which is the heaven of trading. Pakistan has two major coasts Gawadar and Karachi. Pakistan is the gateway to trade in Far East areas, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Sirilanka and Australia. Pakistan is separating India from Iran and Afghanistan, and Iran has huge natural resources like natural oil and gas. Pakistan is very important trade way for china to approach the trade markets of Middle Eastern and Arabian countries. Chinas own coastal areas are far away and the shortest approach for China to trade is Pakistan. Pakistan and China have friendly relations with each other. Both countries trade on the bases of Barter trading. Gawadar port is located between three major and important regions Central Asia, South Asia and Oil rich areas of Middle East. Shahrahe Karakuram is the way from which Pakistan and China can trade. 8. GEOGRAPHICAL IMPORTANCE OF BALOCHISTAN AND POWER GAME Ahmad (1992) writes, Serious observers of the contemporary scene

cannot miss the importance of certain new, or tainted, geo-political realities vis--vis Baluchistan which will impinge upon and help shape the future history of Pakistan and the region.
It is important to note that the location of Balochistan, connecting Iranian Plateau with South East Asia, Central Asia to its long coast line in the shores of the Arabian Sea, makes it geographically an important place. Balochistan is a mountainous desert area, consisting of 3.5 lakh sq. kms. It borders Iran, Afghanistan and its Southern Boundary is the Arabian Sea with strategically important port of Gwadar on the Makran Coast, commanding approach to the Strait of Hormuz. Its total population is 7.5 million. Balochistan occupies 43.6 percent of Pakistans total area and is least populated. Though the poorest, yet it provides gas and coal (consisting of 200 coal mines) to the industrial infrastructure of the country. Around 60 percent of Pakistans domestic and industrial requirements are met through the gas obtained from Dera Bugti. Balochistan contains the twin character as ecologically, it is connected with Central Asia while politically with South Asia. Strategically, Balochistan is unique in terms of the following factors which are crucial in its strategic calculations: Largest in terms of size Having largest coastline Sensitive borders Arm of Arabian Sea

Lying under the lines of Machkinders rim land, Western and North Eastern portions (Wassan, 2008: 118)

Placed extremely next to the oil lanes of the Persian Gulf and covering a common border with Iran and Afghanistan, Balochistan is strategically too significant; commanding almost the entire coast of the country-470 miles of the Arabian Sea and boasting of a deep sea port, completed with Chinese support at Gwadar (Balochistan). a. GWADAR PORT MAKING BALOCHISTAN STRATEGICALLY VALUABLE

Gwadar is an important district of Balochistan, having 600 Kilometers long border. Until 1958, it had been a part of the State of Oman. On December 1958, Pakistan bought it with an amount of 550 million Rupees. It was suggested as a suitable sight for port in 1964 and thus in 2002, the construction of the port was initiated with the help of China. The Gwadar Port, being the third largest port of the world, is situated at the doorway of the Persian Gulf (180 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz through which 40% of Worlds Oil passes) and at the largest trade route of the world. It is due to this fact that makes it geo-strategically more important to the world powers. In addition to that, due to Iraq-Iran War, Gulf War and Russian disintegration, that led to the emergence of new Central Asian Republics (CARs) has added to its value, as it will provide the shortest route (Quetta to Chaman) to Central Asia. The potential of Gwadar is not new, but the geo-economics of today and even of tomorrow has converted a national potential treasure to an international potential treasure. b. RICKODEK AS A HILLOCK OF GOLD Rickodek, the part of Chagi (Tehsil of Balochistan), means Hillock of Gold. Pakistan and International media has highlighted a new discussion on Rickodek. It is the worlds 4th largest deposit of gold and copper. It has dawned that the mountains of Balochistan are filled up with much costly reservoirs of mineral. Nevertheless, it has also been proved that the gold and copper reserves of about $260 billion are buried under the Rickodek. But it is unfortunate enough on the part of Pakistan that in this developed age; Pakistan is dependent upon foreign companies for their exploring, mining, surveying and refining. The borders of Iran and Afghanistan are also not so far from here. The decision of the Supreme Court about Rickodek has exposed that under and around this hillock of gold, there exists 10 billion kilo gram copper and 370 million gram gold. In order to attain this wealth, the international powers are being exposed under their agendas.

It has been observed throughout the history that, the location of Balochistan has enticed foreign powers to venture its latitude. China is keen and has a focused eye on Balochistan. The Gwadar Port has been completed with its help because China wants to import raw material and oil from Middle East and Africa and export goods through a land corridor that would extend from Gwadar to Chinas Sinkiang Province. Strategically, this port is situated near the Straits of Hormuz, A Major Oil Shipping Lane and China wants entre to the sea for its land-locked western provinces. America- Pakistan is important for America due to Balochistan. In order to counter Iran, America has already given the signals of attack to Israel and US Congress has agreed over it. The main factor is China. The experts are of the opinion that in the next 30 or 40 years that there are chances that the natural resources of China and oil of the Arab world will eliminate and after that the US will be dependent of Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan; and for which the US would have to cross Balochistan and its Coast. Therefore, it would not be an easy job, owing to the interference of China. In this regard, the Gwadar Port and coastal line of Balochistan will play a key role. 9. PAKISTAN AND THE MUSLIM COUNTRIES

Pakistan is known as the door of Islam/Fort of Islam. If we look at the map of Muslim countries, Pakistan occupies a central location among the Muslim world. Thus, it can actively participate in the activities of Muslim world-economic development. Pakistan is the only Muslim country having nuclear capability. Pakistan has great influence on the political and socio-economic activities in the Muslim world and the Organization of Islamic Conference especially. 10. NUCLEAR CAPABILITY OF PAKISTAN

Pakistans strategic position in the world has been considerably increased ever since it has achieved nuclear capability, which has made it the only Muslim country armed with atomic weapons. After acquiring the nuclear capability, the balance of power in the region is restored. 11. CONCLUSION

Pakistan is very important country in the world with respect to its geographic location. Its importance is enhanced as a gateway to among countries in the various regions. Pakistans geo-strategic importance can be best understood in the regional and global perspective. In geographical terms, it is surrounded by four countries: Afghanistan, Iran, India and China, each of which is a major player in international

politics. In one way or the other, Pakistan is vital for these countries and this raises its international stature. Afghanistan which is now the focus of worlds attention is generally regarded as the breeding ground of all the international terrorism, militancy and opium production. The whole world, including the US realizes the fact that no peace is possible in Afghanistan without the active support and cooperation of Pakistan. Situated in South Asia, Pakistan is a gateway to Central Asia and its Arabian Sea provides an easy access to the countries of the Middle East. It lies in the neighbourhood of China and India which due to their huge markets are supposed to be the economic giants of future. To sum up, among the innumerable gifts bestowed upon Pakistan by nature, perhaps one of the most important ones is its ideal and highly strategic geographical location. If it is prudently used, it can make our country the hub of international trade and commerce, opening up new doors of progress and prosperity for its people.