Geopolitics

Possible Collapse of Pakistan: Quantifying the Fallout
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Issue Vol 23.1 Jan-Mar2008 | Date : 27 Feb , 2008

Chances of a Jihadi Takeover

A Jihadi takeover of Pakistan is the single biggest worry for the rest of the world and for us in India. It is even worse than having to deal with five million refugees. The Islamic clerics and the militants based in the Peshawar/Waziristan area are all working towards this end. With Benazir gone, the Pakistan People’s party (PPP) is in disarray. It is to be noted that even when Benazir was alive , in the last election held nearly a decade back , neither she nor Nawaz Sharif could each get more than 17 percent of the total votes polled in Pakistan. The position of the PPP and the Muslim league is even more fragile today and this is what should keep decision makers up at night. It is for this reason, that the US and its allies within NATO, as well as Israel, will now be working overtime to figure out how to deal with the possibility of a militant takeover of Pakistan.

China has a huge stake in Pakistan. It is an important part of its strategy to encircle India.

If we assume for the sake of argument that the US has taken over all Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, there is always a chance that once a jihadi regime is in power in Islamabad, it can easily proceed with a weaponisation programme with material that is readily available in Pakistan or procured from the Chinese who will only be too willing to help.

Since the danger for the rest of the world is so great, it is to be expected, that the US and its European allies, would prefer an option that allows Pakistan to disintegrate, as it is easier to manage and deal smaller states.

If Pakistan survives Benazir’s exit and the current chaotic state of affairs, it will be even more dangerous, due to the ever present danger of a militant takeover, given extremely weak political institutions. In such a situation even Nawaz Sharif would prefer to rule Punjab alone, and not try to put together the Pakistani Humpty Dumpty. Nawaz is a smart fellow and he may do just that.

Strategic issues of Geography

Without Sindh and Balochistan, the current Pakistani province of Punjab will not have any access to the sea. The two ports near Karachi and the port of Gwadar in Balochistan are thus of strategic importance to the other provinces that lie to the north.

It can therefore be expected that these and a freight/passenger corridor south through Sindh, will be a bone of contention and an issue for negotiation, as without them, the possibility of trade for northern states would be rather limited. Also of concern to India’s military high command are issues relating to the new ownership structure of the present Pakistani navy which will be based in Balochistan and Sindh.

A Jihadi takeover of Pakistan is the single biggest worry for the rest of the world and for us in India.

Chinese Interests

China has a huge stake in Pakistan. It is an important part of its strategy to encircle India. The Chinese government has invested large sums of money to build a road to Pakistan through the Himalayas. They have also spent close to US $ 2 billion to develop the deep water port at Gwadar in Balochistan mainly with a view to develop a naval base there. The Gwadar naval base is the Chinese platform for future action in the Persian Gulf region where they view US influence as a threat. It is therefore not in the strategic interests of China to let Pakistan crumble. There is however little that they can do given the current state of affairs.

Implications for the Energy Business

  • Iran-India Pipeline: This pipeline will actually come up sooner, as an independent Sindh and Balochistan will be very keen to participate in a project that could yield them revenues of close to $ 300 million/year each in transit fees assuming a flow rate of 60 MMSCMD of gas. It is a sad thing but finally this whole game is about numbers and about money. It has been this way for thousands of years.
  • Oil Price: There will be no impact on crude oil price from a purely demand-supply perspective, as neither India nor Pakistan are oil consumers on a scale that matters. They also do not supply the global market with oil. Secondary effects however could affect price.

The above for now, constitutes a view and a framework for decision making. The full scale of the problem will be known only in the coming months. This like all other problems that India is faced with, needs to be planned for, and effectively managed.

The huge refugee problem that could soon be upon us needs to be highlighted. We need to have a plan to prevent five million people from crossing the international border, with military action if necessary. The continued well being of India depends on it.

First Published in 2008

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Ashish Puntambekar

is lead designer at the Design Lab in Mumbai. He is the chief planner of the Defence Economic Zone project with 23 years of experience in large Infrastructure project design.

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12 thoughts on “Possible Collapse of Pakistan: Quantifying the Fallout

  1. INDIA MUST EXTEND MORAL POLITICAL SCIENTIFIC , FINANCIAL,MATERIAL AND MILTARY SUPPORT TO ALL THE PAKISTANI PROVINCES WHICH WANT INDEPENDANCE . ASTRONG VIBRANT PAKISTAN IS NOT IN INDIAS INTERESTS AND HAS BEEN NUISANCE MONKEY ON OUR BACK WHICH HAS KEPT THE SUBCONTINENT POOR , ILLETRATE FILTHY AND CHAOTIC AS VITAL RESOURCES REQUIRED FOR EDUCATION , HEALTH , SANITATION , HOUSING INFRASTRUCTURE ARE MINDLESSLY POURED INTO ARMS AQUISATIONS FILLING THE POCKETS OF ARMS DEALERS COMPANIES OF AMERICA , FRANCE RUSSIA CHINA AND BRITIAN . INDIAN PAKISTANI ELITE OF POLITICIANS , BUREUCRATS , GENERALS AND PROCUREMENT DALALS MAKE MILLIONS IN COMMISSIONS WHILST THE FEUDAL ARMIES FACING EACH OTHER REGULARLY KILL AND MAIM EACH OTHER .

  2. This is from Indian Defence. Of course they will do this wishful thinking for all Indians. They are paid for this. There are similarsuch negative observations in international media about India appearing almost daily.

  3. Old artical but still have relevance……during” Op Parakram ” this was the target and could have achieved that easily…..now the situation is different…..but not impossible to cut into four country . If it is done now we have also to see the impact on us as well as on other country. Example is Bangla Desh.

  4. I wonder what makes Indian authors go that far to talk about disintegration of Pakistan? Is that because of Bangladesh in 1971? The author or whoever shares the thought are advised to travel to Pakistan. If they are in a position of authority, should go and see some counter parts there. Americans have been doing that for quite a while now and so did other Western countries. I bet you are going to change your perception by 180 degrees and might start taking more interest in the unity of India. You actually know nothing, I am sorry.

  5. what the author hasn’t considered is that the fall of pakistan will probably destabilize and ruin the economy leading to unemployment in large sections of the population . terrorist organizations can easily recruit from these sections by blaming india for the breakup through their 40 or so publications . this will only compound problems for india . it is better to keep pakistan stable and united and have them fight the taliban for us . and china has invested far too much to let it all go to waste . they will try and stabilize the region through funding to the government and other unconventional ways .

  6. Though possible, the disintegration of Pakistan as envisioned by the author does not seem probable. The Pakistan Army would be able to keep the nation together, if possible, with political help. In any case, a strong Pakistan is always a better option for our country. So, we would hope that Pakistan remains united and is able to resolve it’s internal conflicts to the best of it’s abilities.

  7. This is an important article which drew my attention.
    The writer has not given the possible aftermath of Pakistan’s fall-out.
    In my opinion, a stable Pakistan is always in India’s best interest due to the reasons that if Pakistan falls out, it is certain that India would be divided into at least One Dozen states in a very short span of time due to its innumerable internal conflicts. This is a true picture which says in Urdu ~ ” Aa Bail Mujhe Marr “. Please never under-estimate the power of a sovereign state where the citizens are very emotional too. The story about Nuclear weapons is also vague. The author is very much impressed by the Pakistan Army’s capabilities & I appreciate it.

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