By: Syed Shahzaib Haider
Pakistan’s borders don’t really make a lot of sense to me. If we see it through the topographic map we understand that none of our boarders really follow any clear geographic boundaries, like river and mountains and when we switch to an ethnic map we can also see that our borders don’t really appear to follow any clear ethnic divisions either. What our boundaries do follow instead is the religious borders between the majority Muslim and majority Hindu areas of the Indian subcontinent. And that I believe is not by accident it was designed that way from the beginning on purpose. Again like most messy border problems across the world its all the fault of the British in my opinion.
As we all know the entire Indian subcontinent was once ruled by the British since they decided to let it all go and named it independence, they decided to do it only on the basis of religion. Without any regard to natural geographic boundaries. And this has created several problems for the two countries. In the case of Pakistan having long boarder with India starts from the Arabian sea through the salt marshes of the Ran of kuch the vast inhospitable Thar desert the fertile Punjab and up through the high mountains of the hotly contested province of the Kashmir most of this boarder is recognized and accepted by both Pakistan and India until it gets to the Kashmir area, which is territory entirely claimed by both.
Everyone knows since how long the two countries are fighting against each other for the control over the whole area. India today is without a doubt Pakistan’s biggest rival on the worlds stage. The whole boarder between the two countries is considered to be one of the most dangerous places in the entire world. If the war breakout between us we unfortunately have really weak geographic armor for defenses across the entire line as the situation in Kashmir stands today the Indian military occupies a line that is only 83 kilometers away from the center of the capital of our country. If we take control all of Kashmir it would push the Indian lines far away from the capital city and can establish a massively significant mountain shield that the Indian army would struggle to punch through to get to the striking point, and this is partially being the reason why Kashmir is such a massive strategic value for us after considering the religious sentiment which of course comes first.
But as it is now the Indian military is within the striking distance to us and all the big mountains that we control are located in the far north of the country far away from the major population and economic hubs. Which means that any Indian advance could just simply ignore our that side. Now let’s come to the Indus river which is one the biggest river in the world can be a great defense of line but unfortunately, it runs roughly through the middle of the country which means that is also not a very good entity for us because it can be a way as well from the enemy as it is almost adjacent to the major cities like Lahore Faisalabad Hyderabad and the capital itself.
Further complicating thing is that we hold only a single fully functional sea port of Karachi. And because the 60% of all of Pakistan’s cargo is only through that port. This heavy reliance on the single city port makes us exceptionally vulnerable. But the boarder with India and the over reliance on the single port are not the only messy broader situations that we face, there is another British created mess for us and that is sharing border with Afghanistan. British lords divided the ethnic territory of Pashtuns between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Which is again very problematic for us because the Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group inside of Afghanistan and they largely rule that country.
So the Pashtuns of Afghanistan have long desired to be reunited with the rest of the Pashtuns across the border in Pakistan. As the president of Afghanistan in 2017 said that they will never recognize the border as it stands today, With Pakistan. And how can we forget when Pakistan joined the United nations in 1947 there was only a single country who voted against us and it wasn’t India it was Afghanistan.
So because of these messy borders leftover by British Pakistan is facing enemies on both sides means that we have two unstable borders on either side. This leaves only China as Pakistan’s potential geographically in the region. As China without a doubt is Pakistan’s biggest ally on the world’s stage. The geography of Pakistan is difficult and challenging than most, but with strong leadership durable alliances and careful diplomacy, all these difficulties can be made manageable.
The writer is special correspondent and columnist at The Dayspring. He can be reached at [email protected]