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Time for the Gulf to show solidarity

By Mohammad Baloch

A powerful and liberated Greater Balochistan would be a guarantor of peace in the region and would also best serve the interests of the Gulf.

Iran is at its weakest point in history and growing weaker. Diplomatically, Iran has no good friends in the neighborhood and is isolated and cornered. Business partner China is distancing itself, as evident from the recent visits of the Chinese premier to the Gulf countries. On its northeastern border lies Afghanistan with its foreign policy handled by the USA. Nearly all the inhabitants on Iran's borders, i.e., the Kurds, Baloch, Azerbaijanis and Arabs, are hostile to the Iranian totalitarian regime of the majority Persians and regard them as an occupying nation. Pakistan, on its eastern border, faces an insurgency and is growing weaker day-by-day.

The Balochs have never accepted the illegal occupation of their land and have fought a war with Pakistan for nearly a decade without any foreign support. They are emerging as the newest power in the region. As this balance of power shifts, the blockade of NATO supplies shows that Pakistan is not a reliable partner, nor is it in Pakistan's interest for there to be peace in Afghanistan. China has its own goals in relation to Gwadar and the coastal belt. The strategic importance of Balochistan, therefore, is now prodding the West to take note.

The Balochs have had historical relations with all of the Gulf countries. In 1783, Oman's Saiad Sultan defeated the ruler of Muscat who was given refuge by the Khan of Kalat in Gwadar. Gwadar presented to him, as a show of Baloch hospitality, Kalat's share of revenues from Gwadar until the Sultan regained Muscat. In 1895, an Iranian-influenced revolt against Sheikh Issa bin Ali of Bahrain was put down by Baloch tribes and British forces. All the seven Royals of U.A.E trusted the Baloch as their foot soldiers.

At present, it is clear that the U.A.E would not approve of a Chinese-supervised Gwadar port. Nor would Qatar like an Iranian pipeline passing through Balochistan supplying Pakistan and China with gas. While Saudia Arabia has always been a keen supporter of Pakistan, allying itself with the Pakistanis against the Soviets and inciting militancy in Pakistan by funding madrasas, Pakistan is an unpredictable friend. Saudia Arabia looks to Pakistan for nuclear security against Iran, but it forgets that Pakistan was the country supplying nuclear technology to Iran. Iran was most recently involved in the unrest in the Qateef district of Saudia Arabia. Pakistan betrayed Saudia Arabia by handing over its most valuable proxy Abdul Malik Regi of Jundallah to Iran.

A powerful and liberated Greater Balochistan would be a guarantor of peace in the region and would also best serve the interests of the Gulf. It would also encourage Iran to behave along more conciliatory lines and would end Iran's adventures in the Gulf and Arabian states. With Iran as an arch-enemy, and Pakistan on its way to disintegration, at the moment Pakistan is unable to serve the interests of the Gulf countries. Isn't it time that the intelligence agencies of the Gulf open a backdoor channel to the Baloch national movement, supporting it both against Iran and Pakistan?

Mohammad Baloch is a student of political science.