Thursday, December 31

A Lecture on Baluchistan

Never knew quite a lot of these things. Interesting Lecture on Baluchistan by Selig Harrison. Worth Reading in full, but quoting:

I am going to start with a citation from the scripture. Scripture for me on the subject of Pakistan is an important book called the Shadow of the Great Game: the Untold Story of India’s Partition, by Narendra Singh Sarila, a retired Indian diplomat who was the ADC to Mountbatten [Viceroy of India]. He got unprecedented access to the British archives. In his book he presents detailed, definitive evidence showing that as early as march, 1945, Winston Churchill and the British general staff decided that partition was necessary for strategic reasons. They deliberately set out to create Pakistan because Jinnah had promised to provide military facilities and Nehru refused to do so. This is the key to understanding why Pakistan is so dysfunctional. It’s an artificial political entity. The British put together five ethnic groups that had never before co-existed in the same body politic historically. The Bengalis were the biggest. They outnumbered all of the other four combined—the Punjabis, the Pashtuns, the Baluch and the Sindhis. Five became four of course when Bangladesh seceded [in 1971]…..

By themselves, the Baluch are in a weak position militarily, but they are beginning to forge alliances with Sindhi factions that could become significant. What some of the Baluch and Sindhi leaders are talking about is a sovereign Baluch-Sindhi federation stretching from the Indian border to Iran. The most obvious impediment to this dream of course is the fact that Karachi is right in the middle of the area concerned with a multi-ethnic population. But the Baluch and Sindhis point out that Karachi depends on gas and water pipelines crossing through areas of the surrounding countryside under their control.

An independent Baluch-Sindhi federation would not necessarily conflict with U.S. interests because the Baluch and Sindhi areas are strongholds of secular values and moderate Islam. Most of the Sindhis are Sufis and many of the Baluch are Zikris. They reject the Wahabi and Deobandi brand of Islam pushed by the Sepa-e-Sehaba and other virulently anti-Shia Sunni groups in the Punjab. The Islamist threat is centered in the Punjab where Lashkar-e-Taiba and other hard-core jihadi groups are increasingly strong.

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