Geo Political Importance of Pakistan
Importance of Pakistan: The geo-strategic location of Pakistan in the biggest continent of Asia has given it a unique position in the world. Pakistan due to its geographical location has assumed a decisive role to play in keeping balance of power in Asia and particularly between the super powers. Pakistan is being described as “guarding the traditional invasion routes from central Asia to the sub-continent” as commanding the sea lanes from the oil guff to the Arabian Sea and as “blocking access to the warm waters of the Indian ocean”.
India is one of the great and most important neighbors of Pakistan. It has a common border with Pakistan very wide in length. The geographical and strategic location has enhanced Pakistan’s importance in the world. The USA and other western nations, attach great deal of importance to Pakistan’s security requirements.
Pakistan comprised of two wings at the time of independence in 1947 till 1971, which were known as Western and Eastern Pakistan. The Eastern part of the country seceded as a result of Indian aggression in 1971 to emerge as an independent and sovereign state of Bangladesh. At present Pakistan consists of four provinces of the former Western Pakistan known as Sindh, Punjab, NWFP and Baluchistan.
Importance of Location
The official name of the Country is Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Islamabad is its capital. Karachi remained capital from 1947 to .1959. Pakistan occupies a highly strategic position in the Asian continent. It is situated between the Arabian and Indo-China peninsulas. .
Pakistan lies between 24°Ñ to 37°N latitude and 61°E to 75.5°E longitude. . The Chinese territory of Sinkiang is situated in the North and Northeast of (Gilgit) Pakistan.
It is bounded to the west by Iran to the North by Afghanistan, to the North East by China, to the East and Southeast by India and to the South by the Arabian Sea Area.
There is slight variation with respect to the area of Pakistan. However, according to the government of Pakistan, the area is 31,403 sqr miles (796095 sqr km). Out of this 468000 sqr km is in the North and west, which forms mountainous land and plateau. The remaining 328000-sqr km comprises a level plain.
Pakistan can be divided physio-graphically in to four regions: the great highlands, the Baluchistan plateau, the Indus plain, and the desert areas. The Himalayan and
Trans-Himalayan mountains ranges (the Karakoram and the Pamirs), rising to an average elevation of more than 2000 Ft (6100 m) and including some of the world’s highest peaks, such as k2 (28251 ft) and Nanga Parbat (26,660 Ft), make up the great highlands, which occupy the entire northern region. The Baluchistan plateau, a broken highland region about 1000 Ft in elevation with many ridges crossing it from northeast to southwest is in the west.
The Indus plain, the most prosperous agricultural region of Pakistan, covers an area of 200000 sq mi in the East. In the southeast are the desert areas, from north to south, the Thai, the Cholistan, and the Thar all three -northward or westward extensions of the Thar Desert of western India. The Indus is the principal river; its major tributaries are the Chenab Jehlem, Ravi, and Sutlej, most of the country has little seismic activity, but the Quetta region and northern Pakistan are subject to severe earthquakes.
Geo Political Importance of Pakistan
President Yahya Khan said to the Iranian parliament on October 31, 1969 that, “Pakistan has the unique distinction of being Surrounded by three of world’s largest nations i.e. the Soviet Union, China and India, therefore Pakistan occupies significant position in the family of international community”.
But now a days Pakistan shares frontiers with two important Asian states, china and India and before the disintegration of the Soviet Union it was separated from that country b y a narrow strip of Afghanistan. Pakistan inherited its northwestern border with Afghanistan from the British Indian Empire. Afghanistan attracted British attention due to Britain’s attention due to Britain’s distrust of Russia, going back to the nineteenth century.
Afghanistan as a buffer
A combination of a strong military posture, the use of Afghanistan as a buffer, and constant diplomatic maneuvering ensured the security of the British Empire vis-a-vis imperial Russia and later the Soviet Union. This territory was not just the Indian frontier, but also the most vulnerable frontier of the whole Empire.
The northwestern frontier continued to be important in the context of the cold war due to its proximity to the Soviet Union. Pakistan’s participation in US – sponsored alliance in the mid-1950s was therefore viewed as directly relevant to American containment policy.
Geo Political Importance of Pakistan
Pakistan’s geographic location gained additional strategic, importance with the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan in December 1979. Pakistan played a key role in implementing the western policy of countering Soviet attempt to subdue Afghanistan. It offered sanctuary to Afghan resistance groups; facilitated material support for these groups by the west, and by conservative Arab states; cooperated with the US in security affairs, including the sharing of intelligence on Afghanistan and extended humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees in Pakistan with the support of the international community.
The end of the cold war and the disintegration of the Soviet Union have hanged the strategic environment, but Pakistan continuous to be important due to its proximity to the newly independent states of Central Asia (CARS) and post-Soviet Afghanistan. Independence came to the states of Central Asia suddenly and in the absence of a popular movement with the goal. These states are now engaged in farming their independent identities and are endeavoring to address their socio-economic problems,’ both of which are proving to be uphill tasks. Pakistan being a neighboring state, could possibly contribute to the efforts of these countries to achieve prosperity and peace.
Pakistan and China Relations
Pakistan also shares an important four hundred mile frontier with China in Kashmir – Xinjiang region. The first road link between the two countries was inaugurated in 1971. It was later upgraded to international standards and an all-weather road, the Karakoram Highway, which passes through the most rugged mountainous, terrain along the traditional silk route. It connects China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s northern areas, thereby providing a road from Xinjiang to the Middle East and the Arabian Sea. Though the Karakoram Highway was designed to improve communication and trade its strategic importance cannot be ignored. It can be used for troop movement and with some upgrading, could also take heavy armor and large-size container trunks. In addition Turkey comes to Pakistan through this route.
Pakistan and China have maintained cordial relations since the early 1960s and have generally been supportive of each other’s foreign policy goals. Pakistan served as a useful link between China and the rest of the world at a time when the United States was bent on isolating China.
The political and economic relations that China cultivated with Pakistan to demonstrate its desire to develop mutually beneficial relations with non-Marxist states. This also gave Pakistan a counterweight against India and Russia, which obviously comforted successive governments in Islamabad but deepened Indian mistrust. Proximity to the gulf region and the multifaceted political, economic and security links that Pakistan has cultivated with those Arab States have added to its diplomatic clout, and connect it to issues of security and stability in that vital region though one can talk of historical and cultural bonds, between Pakistan and the gulf area, effective economic and security ties really developed only in the 1970s, making Pakistan perhaps the only non-Arab developing states with influence in these countries.
After the historical incident of 9/11 Pakistan is playing very effective and leading role against terrorism just because of its geographical position.