A Breakup of Pakistan: Good or Bad for The West?

Pakistani Military Post
Heading for a Yugoslavia-style bust up?

The assault last night on Mehran Naval Air Base in Karachi that left at least a dozen soldiers dead and destroyed anti submarine/ marine surveillance aircraft is the strongest evidence to date that Pakistan is losing the battle against home grown militants. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani described this latest attack by the Pakistani Taliban as a “cowardly act of terror”. While I certainly don’t condone the militants’ actions, as someone with 23 years military experience, I can say without reservation that last night’s raid was hardly cowardly.  Unlike previous attacks, the Pakistani Taliban did not detonate a vehicle borne explosive device or take a few pot shots and run away.  They staged a direct ground assault on a secure military installation.  An operation of that nature takes supreme confidence, good organization and a healthy dose of fearlessness.

This is an extremely alarming development, especially given that Pakistan’s military installations have been on high alert since the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad earlier this month. Because if the country’s security forces can’t stop insurgents from penetrating a well-fortified military base, why should anyone believe they can defend the nation’s nuclear assets against terrorists?  It is more important than ever now that we examine the goals and motives of Pakistan’s insurgent groups and how the pursuit and/or realization of those goals would impact western interests in the region.


Islamabad is currently battling two significant home grown insurgent groups, both of which are trying to overthrow the state; the Pakistani Taliban and Baluch rebels in Baluchistan province (Pakistan’s largest and most resource rich).  Though born in different eras and political climates, both insurgencies are, at their heart, ethnic rebellions against a central government and army dominated by ethnic Punjabis and Sindhis.

In my capacity as a security advisor in the region, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many ethnic Pashtun from Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal belt; the breeding, recruiting and training ground for the Pakistani Taliban.  The overwhelming majority of Pashtun I’ve encountered have felt hard done by the Durand line; the 1893 British drawn border which currently separates Pakistan from Afghanistan.   The Durand line divided the Pashtun tribes between the two countries and it has long been a Pashtun dream to see it abolished and their homeland reunited as a nation in its own right—Pashtunistan.  Baluch rebels also desire to create their own nation by ending what they see as the illegal occupation of native Baluch lands by Pakistan and neighbouring Iran.


How could Pashtun and Baluch nationalist agendas impact western interests in the region and beyond?  The answer pivots greatly on geo-political loyalties.  There are currently two superpowers vying for hegemonic influence over Pakistan; China and the United States. While Washington’s relationship with Islamabad has been steadily declining, Beijing’s has been on the up, thanks to military cooperation and China’s development of an energy corridor through Pakistan.  At present, China is Islamabad’s closest ally. Indeed some of the hostages taken during last night’s siege on Mehran Naval Air Base were Chinese “maintenance” workers (at least, that’s how Pakistan’s Interior Minister described them).

The jewel in the crown of China’s energy conduit through Pakistan is the deep water port in Gwadar, Baluchistan (which some analysts believe may double as a Chinese naval base).  The development of this port has done little to benefit ethnic Baluch in the province and has even dispossessed many of their ancestral lands.  Baluch rebels have plenty of reasons not to like Beijing.  So should they get their longed-for homeland, it is entirely possible they’ll turn West toward their future, not East.

You only need to look at an atlas to see the potential benefits of a western-friendly Baluchistan. It would cement western hegemony in the oil-rich Arabian Gulf by moving Gwadar firmly into western-friendly hands, and help physically contain Iran (which has arms and energy deals with Beijing).

The potential benefits of Pashtun nationalism to the West are more difficult to gauge.  On the downside, an independent Pashtunistan could become a haven for al-Qaeda foreign fighters and its formation would undoubtedly escalate the decades-long civil war in Afghanistan (the southern and eastern Afghan provinces are ethnically Pashtun). Furthermore, there’s a possibility that an independent Pashtunistan would fall into Beijing’s orbit given that China has already made significant economic inroads into Pashtun parts of Afghanistan.

Even so, many Pakistani and Afghan Pashtun warlords hunger for an independent homeland and western support of Pashtun nationalist ambitions could very well set the stage for a peace settlement with the Afghan Taliban; a necessary pre-condition for the full withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan; a development the United States, Britain and other coalition forces would welcome with open arms.


While there are certainly plenty of geo-political scenarios to ponder, the fate of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal eclipses all other considerations.  After last night’s attack, anyone who doesn’t believe that the country is heading for a Yugoslavia-style, ethnic civil war is burying their head in the sand.  The global community can no longer take Islamabad’s word for it that Pakistan’s nukes are one hundred percent secured, especially the tactical nuclear weapons that were test-fired last month. Not only is it in the West’s interest to do everything possible to force Pakistan to open its nuclear facilities to outside inspection, it is in China’s interests as well.  Because though Washington and Beijing may have competing agendas in Pakistan, if the country’s nukes fall into rogue hands, East and West could end up paying a terrible price.

Published by: bobshepherdauthor

Bestselling author Bob Shepherd has spent nearly forty years operating in conflict areas around the world. A twenty year veteran of Britain’s elite 22 SAS Regiment with nearly two decades of private security work to his credit, Bob has successfully negotiated some of the most dangerous places on earth as a special forces soldier and a private citizen. Bob comments regularly on security issues and has appeared on CNN International, BBC, SKY News, and BBC Radio. He has also authored numerous articles and books including the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller The Circuit. In addition to writing and lecturing, Bob continues to advise individuals operating in hostile environments. For more of his insights on security and geopolitics visit www.bobshepherdauthor.com

Categories Global Security, PakistanTags, , , , , 6 Comments

6 thoughts on “A Breakup of Pakistan: Good or Bad for The West?”

  1. Bob,

    Thank you for another really interesting and insightful post; I agree the attack from the limited information I have seen appears to be a professionally planned and executed assault. One wonders if this was organised by the various group themselves or was there external influences at play? From your knowledge do they have a history and or capability to launch such an operation?

    If there is external assistance, who would it come from? as you say it would not be in either the US or Chinas interest to have a country of Pakistan’s strategic importance in such a state of unrest!

    What does seem to have gone unmentioned for sometime in the region is India. If my memory serves me well, there were oft muted rumours to Iranian support to India in the past and if this is the case I am sure a case could be made for why Iran would want international attention focussed elsewhere. This and there open pursuit of a nuclear capability may cause even greater worry.

    best regards,

    1. Hi Glenn,

      Thanks for this. Absolutely, there are of course a number of countries with proxy influence in the region, India, Russia and Iran not being mentioned in this particular post. India, I believe has huge influence along with Iran and of course China with what goes on in Baluchistan. However, this post is to highlight the struggle between the West and China for influence in Pakistan. The West is playing a very dangerous game by playing best mates with both India and Pakistan at the same time.

      Thanks again for your great comments Glenn, please keep them coming.

  2. It seems to be common knowledge in Pakistan that India’s RAW Intelligence Agency sponsored this attack on the naval base in Karachi, Pakistan by providing satellite pictures and other secure information to a group of disgrunteled employees who had joined a Jahadi group. Such major operations cannot be conducted by cave dwelling people alone.

    You are also correct that the George Soros foundation said that Balouchistan needs to be separated from Pakistan to deprive China of a Energy corridor even if this means killing millions of Pakistanis due to the CIA and Indian RAW sponsored wars in Balouchistan and Khyber Paktoonwa. It is also common knowledge in Pakistan that the CIA is funding the Pakistan Taliban to attach the Pakistan Army whereas the Afghanistan Taliban are fighting the Americans and do not attack Pakistan. On a seperate note the entire Balouch population does not compromise more than 5 % of the Paksitan population and out of this 5%less than 1% are opposed to Paksitan. These are the Tribal Lords who have deprived their people of a decent living for decades and have created a feudal society.

    Once a peaceful land Pakistan is paying the price for its loyalty to America in making it the super power of the World by letting Pakistan be used by the CIA to eliminate USSR from Afghanistan. The powerfull Indian lobby in the USA is a major player in this end game.

    Indians have never reconciled on the creation of Pakistan. Since India could not break up West Pakistan by force even though it is 10 times larger, it has resorted to creating nationalist movements in Balouchistan financed by its nightmare intelligence agency RAW and by pressurizing American elected officials with the enormous power of its wealthy Silicon valley companies to break up Pakistan. What the Americans do not realize is that Indians are using America to crush india’s ememies and then One fine day Americans will wake up to the shackles of Indian slavery and mind control thru media and as poetic justice would have it, the slave traders of yesterday would be enslaved themselves.

    Major Oil companies are also encouraging this break up of Pakistan to get a hold of thier vast natural resources.

    Those of us living outside the USA see a very different America now under foreign domination due to the curse of the Political Action Committees/ Interest groups/corporations as compared to the gentle, caring America of yesterday that saved the World and millions of Jews from the Nazis.

    Finally, it would seem that these same Indians will be responsible for their own undoing as a wounded, dying Pakistan would not hesitate to use Nuclear Weapons on India. These Indians sitting in the USA may not be too concerned for the fate of their fellow Indians as long as the nuclear war is being fought in far off lands of India and Pakistan. Please do not listen to these indian war mongers or those greedy oil barons whoi care nothing for the fate of the ordinary man and his family. Wake up my friends this World is a very cruel place if your country has oil and other resources.

    Anonymous Pakistani in
    Paris, France

    1. Hi Anonymous Pakistani,

      Thank you for your comments. I found them very informative and have heard on the ground in Pakistan very similar remarks to your own.
      Thank you.
      Very best regards.

  3. India is the new best friend of Israel. Since China refused to be enslaved by Israel, it is the new bad boy and target. You can almost read their (The masters) mind by watching what their controlled media is saying and showing (China Bad – India Good and Pakistan evil). This is the big game. Everyone knows that USA, England, Israel and India are running intelligence operations in Balochistan province to break up Pakistan. The Pakistan Taliban is on the CIA payroll and attack Pakistan while the Afghan Taliban only attack the USA army. The idea is to weaken Pakistan Armed forces the glue and create conditions for a civil war in Pakistan. They are playing both sides in this war to appear as friends of Pakistan. Why India is interested in Pakistan’s break up is very clear – They have never accepted Pakistan’s creation by breakup of their motherland. They want the UN resolution to grant Kashmir freedom to break free of India diminished by breaking up Pakistan (The Kashmiri’s want to unite with Pakistan). India wants the UN permanent seat but is violating the UN resolution on Kashmir. Why is the USA interested in Pakistan’s break up??? To deny China the energy corridor to Gawadar port in Balochistan and the vast mineral and oil resources of Balochistan. Why is Israel interested in Pakistan’s breakup? Because some Indian convinced some Jew that Pakistan, thousands of miles away, is a threat to their survival – Most Pakistanis do not even care of such a far away land. Why is England Interested in Pakistan’s break up, because they are a poodle of USA. George Soros (Rothschield’s) money investor has a foundation that published that Pakistan must be partitioned as China must be denied the Energy corridor to Gawadar port or the Dollar is doomed. The Giant Oil companies are salvating at the prospect of getting their hands on the Oil in Balochistan. In 1994 5 USA senators went to India and announced that within 15 years Pakistan will be partitioned. These plans are made decades before they are supposed to materialize. The process involves demonization over a decade followed by sanctions and then an attack. The powerful Indian Silicon valley in California is also pushing this agenda and then off course the Jewish masters of USA are also doing their part —just see their media and you will see their thoughts and motives —it reads like a book. Pakistan’s ambassador to USA Haqqani and the present Pakistani traitor government gave visas to 8000 CIA agents to come to Pakistan and get to know the terrain, make contacts, bribe the tribal leaders and flame the Insurgency. He was held by the supreme court but due to USA pressure was let go. The CIA bloke who shot 2 Pakistan ISI agents was on a mission to flame the insurgency in Balochistan. He too was let go after the killings. You must have heard of the Israeli’s caught and reported in the NY Times who were contacting extremist outfits to attack Iran—How far is Pakistan from there?? It is the border. Simple Fact is if you are a Muslim and have Oil or other natural resources, your families, life or livelihood will be taken away from you by force. It is time to wake up and see the power hungry, merciless faces behind most of the troubles in this world today. Please remember the peaceful Pakistan of 1978 where no religious party ever won the presidency or any high government positions and where people never heard of guns. How could this transformation happen – It was engineered by the vested interests spoken of above. Pakistani’s just want to live and let live – leave them alone.

    A Patriot

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for your comments.

      I don’t usually push any of my books in answer to a comment, however you must read my latest novel The Good Jihadist, as it covers many of your points and also takes place partly in Baluchistan.
      Very best regards.

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