Rushing to the oil-trade precipice

Rushing to the oil-trade precipice

Prime Minister Modi bringing up “Balochistan” during his August 15 address was criticised, especially since he omitted to mention the ongoing crisis in Kashmir. While the validity of criticism of omission may hold good, mentioning Balochistan could be a calculated move to reverse India’s traditional passivity against Pakistan’s ‘aggressive India’ policy.

India turning a spotlight on Balochistan has the possible disadvantage of Pakistan telling the international community that it confirms India’s hand in fomenting unrest in Balochistan.
Whether true or not, it heightens Pakistan’s fears of being reduced to a minuscule size if Balochistan, comprising around 40% of Pakistan’s present land area, is separated like East Pakistan was in 1971. Further, bringing Balochistan into the picture might change the decades-long India-Pakistan bilateral Kashmir dispute to international intervention, to Pakistan’s advantage.

It also adds to China’s discomfiture as its access to Gwadar port through Balochistan could be compromised. But there are possible strategic advantages for India which, however, call
for careful and calibrated planning to work for our long-term advantage.

Noting that the China-built Gwadar port is on Pakistan’s Bal-ochistan coast, India’s strategy should take into account the inc-reasing India-China friction due to New Delhi’s lurch into the US embrace for military purchases, economics and foreign policy.

Also there is the possibility of China and Pakistan opening up two formal or informal conflict fronts for India, with the shot-in-the-dark guess that it may suit China to enter into military conflict with India to divert its public attention from growingly unmanageable internal dissensions and conflicts.

India hastening to sign LEMOA (Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) with the US relates to New Delhi gaining logistic access to US-controlled military stations in the Arabian Sea and reciprocally providing Washington access to Indian military stations, a politically charged domestic issue.

However, the US is unhappy with India’s closer ties with Iran, especially the India-built Chabahar port, which is a mere 72-km west of Gwadar, providing closer watch over the Persian Gulf.

Thus, India bringing Balochistan into the equation is a strategic move to counter Chinese influence in the Arabian Sea. It will enhance India’s oil security, opening trade routes for India from Chabahar to the Caspian Sea ports, into Russia and Euro-pe, for central Asian oil and
gas  via the International North-South Transport Corridor. Thus, India’s “Balochistan initiative” is in furtherance of its strategy of oil-and-trade security.

China’s “inner” string-of-pea-rls vis-á-vis India (Myanmar-Sri Lanka-Gwadar), its “outer” str-ing-of-pearls (from Chongjin in North Korea to Hambantota in Sri Lanka to Luanda in Angola), its land route to Gwadar, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, enhance its presence in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, and divert international pressure in the South China Sea. This is all about securing oil sou-rces and opening trade routes into Central Asia and Europe.

Failed policy
The strategic manoeuvring by India and China are directed at their oil-and-trade security. They are based upon the holy grail of economic growth centred on industrialisation and consum-erism, with utter neglect (especially in India) of people-related social and economic issues.

The international community has been pursuing neo-liberal economic growth in a race towards a social-economic-environment-ecology precipice, unmindful or ignorant of the twin triggers of the so-called “twilight of the oil age” and GW-CC (global warming & climate change). When this double-barrelled gun fires, it can pull out the rug from under the present oil-and-trade, economic growth-based strategies adopted by all countries.

Indeed, viewing countries as growth-economies rather than the reality of poor-majority, inequality-affected nations plag-ued by conflict-migration and environment-migration, would possibly undergo change, as seriously lowered oil availability and transportation levels slash international trade and impinge on daily life across continents.

Add the imponderables of RMB-Ruble-initiated collapse of the dollar-based international financial system, and nuclear winter following nuclear conflict as possible “collapse scenarios,” and the world’s future is bleak.

An international people’s demand for war (conventional, nuclear, biological, chemical
or cyber), together with wider political realisation of the rapidly advancing GWCC, could be a viable brake to the mindlessly competitive, relentless, lemming-like rush towards the brink of the precipice.

(The writer, a retired Major General, is with People's Union for Civil Liberties)

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