Shakeel Ahmad Shaheen
Pakistan is located at a region which has great political, economic and strategic location. It has been hub of activities of great powers for last 20 years. It has witnessed intervention of three great powers i.e. Britain, USSR, and USA. Its significance was further enhanced during cold war when it becomes ally of US policy of containment of USSR and now the post-cold war era has witnessed its significance particularly after the events of 9/11.
In its neighbor’s one world power Russia and the other emerging power china lies. Any alliance among world powers enhances its significance. This factor has been utilized by Pakistan after 9/11. Security and business are two main US interests in the region while Pakistan is playing a front-line role in the war against terrorism. Apart from this US interest in the region to contain the growing China, nuclear Iran, terrorist Afghanistan and to benefit from the market of India. Today the political scenario of the region is tinged with preemption policy and US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran’s nuclear program, India’s geopolitical muscles (new strategic deal with US) to gain hegemony and to counter 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 tank has repeatedly accepted that war against terrorism could never be won without the help of Pakistan. Pakistan has rigorously fought and an ongoing operation in Waziristan is also targeting the suspected Taliban in the bordering area.
Central Asia is the center stage of new Great games. Quest for resources- oil and energy resources- holds the central point in their policies towards the central Asia. After USSR decline, new quest started which is manifested in their politics towards acquiring oil and gas. Pakistan is located very close to the oil rich Middle Eastern countries. The belt starts from Iran and is extended to the southern tip of Arabian Peninsula with Saudi Arabia as the chief exporter of the oil in the world. Thus, Pakistan can play an influential role in the shipment of oil. Iran is struggling to export its surplus gas and oil to eastern countries. Qatar, Pakistan and Turkmenistan pipeline projects also highlight the country’s pivotal position.
In the energy scarce world, Pakistan is located in the hub of energy rich countries i.e. Iran and Afghanistan, both are energy abundant while India and China are lacking.
Pakistan enjoys a unique geo-strategic position in global politics and if used sensibly, this edge can up the status of this country by a huge mark.
Geostrategic significance of the country increases manifolds while under the fact that China finds short way to Indian Ocean and Arabian sea through Karakoram highway. Recently, China Pakistan Economic corridor has been inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Due to this mega economic project, Pakistan’s economy is boosting. China has started its trade from Gwadar, which will also be helpful for Pakistan. Due to CPEC, Pakistan’s geo strategic position has been increased. International investors are taking interest in Pakistan.
Pakistan has the potential to develop transit economy on account of its strategic location. Land locked Afghanistan now is at the phase of reconstruction. It is linked to outside world mainly through Pakistan.
It is said that when Zia-ul-Haq went to India during his cricket diplomacy, he asked Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi how many atomic bombs were required to destroy Pakistan. Rajiv replied that only two or three could eliminate Pakistan. Zia-ul-Haq then asked him how many such bombs were needed to destroy India. Rajiv said that he thought six or seven were sufficient. Hearing this, Zia stood up and remarked, “Rajiv, shake hands, I have more than seven.” He further said, “If India is destroyed, Hinduism will be eliminated, but if Pakistan is eliminated, Islam will not be eliminated.”
In these circumstances, India was compelled to hold negotiations with Pakistan about the no-war or non-aggression pact. Later, in 1998, when India again carried out nuclear explosions, Pakistan came under enormous international pressure not to conduct its own nuclear tests. While Western powers were pressurizing the government, Iran offered huge financial help and Saudi Arabia promised to supply large quantities of cheap oil in case of international economic sanctions. Pakistan’s nuclear explosions proved very helpful in highlighting the need for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, because the whole world realized that in case of another war on Kashmir, nuclear weapons could be used, causing unimaginable destruction. .
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 crises and terrorism. Pakistan is a route for transportation and a front-line state against terrorism. Moreover, Pakistan has been traditionally ally of emerging economic giant, China. So, in the vague of any change in world politics, Pakistan’s geo-strategic significance would further be enhanced.