Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Balochistan Factor in Pak-Iran Relations: Opportunities and Constraints

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Balochistan Factor in Pak-Iran Relations: Opportunities and Constraints

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The paper mainly focuses on Balochistan, the only western Province of Pakistan which shares direct border with Iran. Due to its geographical location the Province of Balochistan occupies a special place in the friendly relations and mutual collaboration between Pakistan and Iran, especially, in the context of socio-cultural and economic interactions. But, despite of its paramount significance in Pak-Iran relations, there are also certain discouraging and disappointing factors which are equally responsible for creating misunderstanding, doubts and tension in the friendly bilateral relations between these two countries. The paper addresses these factors which make this province a destabilizing factor in Pak-Iran relations.

KEY WORDS: Balochistan, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Hazara,

Introduction

Pakistan inherited about 590 miles (909 km) common frontier with Iran. Pak-Iran boundary is known as Goldsmith line1 was partially demarcated runs from Koh-I-Malik Saih, the tri-junction of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan to the Gwader bay in the Arabian Sea. Also, a common frontier region is inhabited by Baloch tribe which is linguistically, ethnically, culturally and traditionally is alike. The development of communication under the auspices of RCD and ECO further increased in the social and cultural interactions between these two communities.

The geographical contiguity coupled with socio-economic contacts and racial affinities between the people of the two provinces has a positive and profound implications on Pak-Iran relations.Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, which has a close geographical proximity with Iran. This province is one of the leading factors accountable for overall relationship between Pakistan and Iran. The geo-strategic location of Balochistan makes it the most attractive province for transit route to Iran The common border-line is responsible for the regular interactions between the Baloch communities living in Pakistani Balochistan and Seistan (Iranian Balochistan), and also the interaction between Hazaras community living in Quetta and Qum and the other major cities of Iran. The Baloch of Pakistani Balochistan and Seistan Balochistan of Iran have a similar customs and tradition. The strategic trans-national gas pipeline projects and construction of seaport, oil refinery and oil at Gwadar further increase the significance of Balochistan as an important energy conduit in the region.

The paper is divided into two parts. The first part of the paper deals with the socio-economic interactions between the people of the two provinces i.e. Pakistan's Balochistan and Seistan the Baloch province of Iran. The paper focuses more on Baloch borderland interaction across Pak-Iran border. An attempt is made to highlight the role of Iranian Culture Center established in Quetta for the promotion and enhancement of cultural relations, especially, the exchange of visits of the professors, scholars, intellectuals, and students of the two Provinces for purpose of academic activities. The paper further describes Pak-Iran Joint Ventures and a common border market in the Province of Balochistan for the promotion of trade and commercial relations between the two countries.

In the second part of the paper the auther discusses some of the challenges that make Balochistan as a destabilizing factor in Pak-Iran relations. The illegal trade and smuggling, drug trafficking, Jadullah organization, the sectarian crisis and the brutal assassination of Hazaras in Quetta and the adjoining border districts, and the growing competition between the Gwader and Chabahar are the main constraints which remain as a strong bulwark not only in the mutual interaction and close cooperation among the people of these provinces but, also has its adverse affects on the overall future relationship between these two friendly and brotherly neighboring countries.

Balochistan as a Gateway of Pak-Iran Social and Cultural Relations

In the words of Dr. …

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