Explained: Pakistan-Iran Border Tensions And Story Of Balochistan | World News

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NEW DELHI: In a recent escalation of tensions between Iran and Pakistan, both countries have conducted air attacks on armed groups operating near their shared volatile border. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran targeted an armed group in Panjgur town in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, leading to a swift response from Pakistan, which bombed hideouts of armed groups in Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan province.

Geopolitical Significance Of Balochistan

Balochistan, a region of significant geopolitical importance, is divided among three countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Pakistan’s portion is known as Balochistan province, while in Afghanistan, it includes Helmand-Kandahar and Nimruz. In Iran, it is referred to as Sistan-Balochistan.

Historical Context

Balochistan, originally divided into princely states like Kalat, Lasbela, Makran, and Kharan, faced challenges during the British colonial era. In 1947, the states had the option to join either India or Pakistan, and eventually, Balochistan became a part of Pakistan, emerging as its largest province.

The Baloch Perspective: Unrest And Armed Resistance

The Baloch people have a long-standing sentiment of nationalism, challenging the Pakistani government for autonomy. While they aspire for independence, their struggle has not gained enough strength to achieve it. The armed resistance is often labelled as terrorism by both Pakistan and Iran, with recent missile attacks by Iran targeting the Baloch militant group Jaish al-Adl.

Strategic Importance Of Balochistan For Pakistan

Economic and Geopolitical Hub: Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province, contributing significantly to the country’s gas production (40%). It also serves as a critical checkpoint for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Despite its strategic importance, the region has witnessed a long-standing struggle for autonomy, with the Baloch feeling marginalized.

Understanding Baloch Militancy

Roots of Militancy: Balochistan has become a hotspot for militancy, with groups like Jaish al-Adl involved in armed resistance against what they perceive as oppressive governance. The historical grievances and economic disparities have fueled the Baloch insurgency, leading to clashes between Pakistani forces and militant groups.

Cross-Border Dynamics

The complex geopolitical dynamics have further intensified the situation. The border regions, including Gwadar Port in Balochistan and Iran’s Chabahar Port, are considered sister ports, jointly developed by India and Iran as a countermeasure to Gwadar.

A Shared Challenge

The recent airstrikes highlight the shared challenge of the Baloch insurgency faced by both Iran and Pakistan. As the region remains volatile, addressing the root causes of unrest and fostering dialogue is crucial for long-term stability. The geopolitical significance of Balochistan continues to shape the dynamics between these neighbouring nations.

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