January 16, 2012

Paris: Balochistan issues raised at "Raw Materials and International Relations" conference-debate

CrisisBalochistan | January 16, 2012


Left: Mr. Christophe Alexandre Paillard, a lecturer at the Institute
of Political Studies in Paris and ENA

Balochistan has a very important geo-strategic location as it is
situated between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan and what makes it even
more valuable is its extreme richness in mineral resources –
Christophe-Alexandre Paillard

The Balochistan issue is a test case for the international community –
Munir Mengal

(compiled from Paris-France Asia Reporter, The News and other sources)
On January 10, 2012, a conference-debate titled "Raw Materials and
International Relations" was held at Kiron Espace, Paris, on the
occasion of the publication of issue No. 84 "La Revue internationale
et stratégique (Quarterly International and Strategic Review)" by
IRIS/Armand Colin (Institute Des Relations Internationales Et
Strategiques). IRIS is regarded as one of the top think tank
institutes in both France and Europe.

During the debate, Munir Mengal, president of the Baloch Voice
Association, drew attention to the fact that mineral-rich Balochistan
is located in a very important geo-strategic region, finding itself
distributed between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. "By capitalizing
on this given opportunity, I am directing your attention towards
Balochistan, South Asia," Mr. Mengal said. He noted that in relation
to raw materials, there are two issues that affect Balochistan and the
region: 1) the availability and exploration of raw materials within
Balochistan and 2) the transportation of raw materials across Baloch
land. Mr. Mengal added that "Balochistan has a coastal belt of more
than 700 nautical miles and the port of Gwadar is one of the deepest
natural ports of the world. Gwadar Port lies on the straits of Hurmoz,
through which nearly 20% of the world's oil passes. China has already
consulted with Pakistan over plans to build a naval base at Gwadar."

Mr. Mengal said that international experts and think tanks have termed
Balochistan a "mouth-watering" piece of land and that the Geological
survey of Pakistan (GSP) 2007 report states that Pakistan is exploring
40 out of 50 of its minerals from Balochistan. Additionally, plans for
regional and international energy pipelines to cross Balochistan have
already been drawn up, i.e., TAPI, IPI and the extension of those to
China etc. "China has already started implementing her designs and is
heavily involved in the exploration of mineral resources from
Balochistan, i.e., gold and copper projects."

Mr. Mengal took the opportunity to address the political conflict in
Balochistan, as well. "Balochistan was annexed to Pakistan on 27th
March, 1948, by force. Since then its people have suffered under
continuous military operations, suppression, subjugation and are being
marginalized economically, socially, and culturally by Pakistan. The
greed for land and for resources has led Pakistan to commit a
systematic genocide of the Baloch people. The condition of the Baloch
people under Iran also presents a worst case picture of
neo-colonization. The Baloch on either side of the Pakistan/Iran
border have never accepted the illegal occupation of their land and
are resisting the occupation to gain their sovereignty."

Mr. Mengal closed his statement by calling for a response from the
international community, "I would like to say that the issue of
Balochistan is a test case for the International community."

Mr. Christophe Alexandre Paillard, a lecturer at the Institute of
Political Studies in Paris and ENA, added that Balochistan has a very
important geo-strategic location and is rich in mineral resources. He
said that with respect to international relations, right now, at this
time, "There are no immediate plans for Balochistan right now, but in
20 years time it will certainly be on the table."

* * *

Excerpt from TheNews, January 13, 2012, London edition (print version):

"Balochistan has gained international importance"
PARIS: Balochistan has become a very important region internationally
mainly because of its geo-strategic location and mouth-watering
natural resources, scholars and political experts have said.

They told a conference organized by the Institute Des Relations
Internationales Et Strategiques (IRIS) in the French capital that...
"There are no immediate plans for Balochistan right now, but in 20
years time it will certainly be on the table," said Christopher
Alexander Paillard, a lecturer at the Institute of Political Studies
in Paris...

"Balochistan has a very important geo-strategic location as it is
situated between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan and what makes it even
more valuable is its extreme richness in mineral resources," he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Baloch Voice Association president Munir
Mengal said that Balochistan had been termed a "mouth-watering" piece
of land by international experts, therefore, the province is of "so
much importance."

"The Geological Survey of Pakistan 2007 report states that Pakistan is
exploring 40 out of 50 of its minerals in Balochistan," he said.
However, he laments that the Baloch people had continuously been
marginalised by the authorities there.

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