Interview with Pakistani Brigadier Nadir Mir (R)
By D.S. Hurrell
Q1: Your book ‘Gwadar on the Global Chessboard’ outlined the economic and strategic potential this port has for Pakistan. For those who have not read your book, could you elaborate on this strategic port?
A1: A vision of the planet’s pivotal geography in fusion with Pakistan is the concept– a geo-economical concept, potentially becoming one of the most important city in the world. “Gwadar is the next Dubai”. Many think-tanks are of the opinion that the imminent control of the Chinese spells the creation of a new Dubai in Pakistan. Or as the American author Robert D Kaplan writes, “At the intersection of Empires, the Port City of Gwadar could become the new silk route nexus”. My aims of writing this book: ‘Gwadar on the Global Chessboard’ are Firstly
•To project Gwadar’s great potential – a major economic alternative, to begging for funds.
•Gwadar Concept is not limited to the Mekran Coast. It is in fact an Economy Changer for all of Pakistan. A Bonanza for Baluchistan.
•China the world’s second biggest economy needs to be fully linked to Gwadar.
•Pakistan needs an economic and cultural bonding with multi-regions. This includes China, Central Asian States, Russia, West Asia- Iran, Saudi Arabia – Gulf States, Turkey and Africa.
•Gwadar though vital has been neglected – victim of negative politics and hostile Geopolitics.
•Baluchistan’s problems (Exploited by India and foreign powers) demand attention and resolution.
•The Geo-Political indicators favour Gwadar Development.
The Gwadar Concept
•The Global Chessboard is dynamic and evolving. Global economic balance is shifting. Pakistan should initiate a pro-active Geo-economic policy.
•Optimize Pakistan’s Multiregional Geography for Geo-economics gains. Pakistan’s economic bonding with China, Central Asian States – Russia, West Asia – Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Gulf States and Africa.
•Gwadar Port is concept based. The concept is to synergize Pakistan’s multiregional (Geo-Strategic) location, Open Sea Board for Oil – Gas Pipelines, Energy Centre, Transshipment, Transit, Trade, and Finance Generation.
•Gwadar is the Future of Pakistan.
Q2: Is there a link between unrest in Balochistan, the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and the Gwadar Port?
A2: There is a clear Geopolitical link between unrest in Balochistan, the Iran Pakistan gas pipeline and the Gwadar Port.
Firstly, the Balochistan unrest is Pakistan’s internal problem. This issue must be solved as per Pakistani (including Baloch) aspirations but without foreign meddling. Secondly, reportedly, USA is chiseling a West Asian Strategy. This includes war against Iran and destabilizing Pakistani Balochistan and Irani Seastan. In my article ‘Balochistan and Geopolitics’ published in Pravda ru (Moscow) and Nation (Pakistan), I had highlighted some of these aspects. The Americans want to sever Pakistan Iran (including gas pipeline), block China from reaching Indian Ocean at Gwadar. With Pakistan’s new friendship with Russia, even curtail Moscow’s influence at Gwadar in future. Recent American writings betray their Geo strategic designs. One article is quoted below:
‘To counter what China is doing in Pakistan, the United States should play hardball by supporting the movement for an independent Baluchistan along the Arabian Sea and working with Baluch insurgents to oust the Chinese from their budding naval base at Gwadar. Beijing wants its inroads into Gilgit and Baltistan to be the first step on its way to an Arabian Sea outlet at Gwadar.’
Selig S. Harrison “Chinese Cozy Up to the Pakistanis”
The Indians have been trying to destabilize Balochistan for ages. If India was not so hostile, it would have remained in the Iran – Pakistan – India (IPI) gas pipeline project, despite American pressure. A quote below is self-evident; Stable Pakistan Not in India’s Interest
“Baluchistan will achieve independence. For New Delhi this opens a window of opportunity to ensure that Gwadar Port does not fall into the hands of the Chinese. In this there is synergy between the political objective of the Americans and the Indians. Our goodwill existing in Baluchistan requires intelligent leveraging. ……………………….. Today the collapse of Pakistan as a state is almost certain ……………………….. looking ahead, New Delhi should formulate an appropriate strategy for ‘Post Pakistan Scenario’ to secure India’s interest in Central Asia.”
Bharat Verma ,Editor, Indian “Defence Review“
The fact is that there is no need for confrontation. Pakistan seeks peace and prosperity of which Gwadar is one manifestation. If the Chinese and Americans can do business in Dubai, USA and China, then why not at Gwadar? A global consortium can be proposed by Pakistan, addressing US concerns and Chinese requirements. As my book ‘Gwadar on the Global Chessboard’ highlights that Gwadar is not a zero sum game. Gwadar can connect South Africa to China, Russia through the shortest routes and can bring peace and prosperity to dozens of nations. All can benefit from this gift of nature.
Q3: We have seen Property prices in Kabul drop as a result of the expectations that chaos will follow the withdrawal of American forced from Afghanistan in 2014. How do you think the withdrawal will affect Pakistan?
A3: The fall of property prices in Kabul may be an indicator of future events. In fact Afghanistan needs peace like the rest of the world. Consider the fact that the last three decades have seen only war. First the Soviets then the Muhahideen, later Taliban and now Americans/NATO. The Americans are withdrawing but plan to leave behind between 10,000 and 30,000 troops. (Mostly Special Operation Forces). The war will continue, at some level. The Afghanistan War will not end till all foreign military forces withdraw and the majority Pakhtoons (including Taliban) are part of the solution. This implies a negotiated settlement, which leads to durable peace. This is possible but only if Pakistan is the peace maker and sponsor. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan and peace prospects are ideal for Pakistan. A tiny fraction of the elite has prospered from the Afghan War. The rest of Pakistan has suffered enormously from the war next door. Over 40,000 causalities estimated 80 billion dollars in losses suffered, National fiber weakened and Pakistan destabilized. US Drone strikes act as a catalyst for extremism and radicalism. Therefore, in essence US military withdrawal followed by peace should be very welcome in Pakistan and the region.
A new leaf should be turned. US Geo strategy should be replaced by Geo-economics. Landlocked Afghanistan should be linked to Pakistan’s – Gwadar. The Americans are welcome as investors – businessman (they are even welcome in Vietnam where they fought a long war). Pakistan and America were friends before the US War in Afghanistan. They should remain friends after America leaves Afghanistan.
Q4: A lot of mention is made of Pakistan’s weaknesses, the enormous strains pulling the country apart. My impression of Karachi when I visited in 2011 was that of a city under siege, perhaps a symbol of the country as a whole. Can you tell us about Pakistan’s strengths?
A4: Pakistan’s strength is the most pertinent question, but often neglected. Thank you for asking it.
•Firstly Pakistan’s Geography
Its location is super. The location is globally pivotal. If North of it Is the famed Mackinder’s Heartland, itself a part of Spykman’s Rimland. It is located on the Cross Road of Empires. It joins Central Asia, West Asia, South Asia and Indian Ocean. Geo economically it is a ‘Bridge State’ between multi regions, Geo strategically, it is the ‘Interposing State’. West of it is oil rich Gulf, North West energy rich Caspian Sea/Caucasus. River waters, glaciers in the north, Arabian Sea – Indian Ocean in the South.
For a medium sized state, it has all kind of terrain, deserts plains, coast, hilly, snow mountain regions and all four weathers. Its natural treasures abound (though mostly untapped or utilized so far). Reko Dik Gold Reserve in Baluchistan estimated over $ 1 trillion. Thar Coal Reserves in Sindh have energy estimated equal to Saudi Arabia – Iran oil energy output combined. A lot else to follow. Only Kashmir and its river waters occupied by India is the problem.
•The second is demography
By 2015 Pakistan’s population will be 200 million of which 65 % or 130 million will be youth. This energetic – nationalist youth bulge is Pakistan’s future and strength. Pakistan’s national character includes ‘faith in Islam’, ‘love for Pakistan’, ‘courage and spirit of freedom’.
•Thirdly, Military and Nuclear Strength
Pakistan’s Military is strong, professional and motivated to defend Pakistan. Its nuclear strength is robust and sophisticated. This is to ensure deterrence as Pakistan believes in peaceful resolutions of all disputes. Pakistan cannot be conquered by anyone.
Q5: What advice would you give the young future leaders of Pakistan?
A5: My advice to young future leaders of Pakistan is as under:
•Firstly, unite all Pakistanis on one nationalist platform and achieve consensus for national interests.
•Secondly, a reformist agenda to rid Pakistan of major ills. Build Gwadar and revive a national economic cycle.
•Thirdly, a pro people welfare system for ensuring decent basic living to the nation.
•Fourthly, stressing on all forms of education for human resource development of the youth bulge.
•Last yet not least, ensuring national sovereignty and security at all costs.