India’s new focus on Balochistan has more to do with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) than with Kashmir. China understands that CPEC may not be achievable. But there are real dangers in reviving Pakistani fears of secessionism and in broadening the field of Indo-Pakistani conflict beyond the confines of Kashmir.
Is China actively building up its maritime presence in the Arabian Sea, to dominate vital sea lanes and perhaps encircle India with a chain of naval bases? There can be little doubt that China views Gwadar as a potentially useful asset. China, however, will know better than anyone that Gwadar has two considerable limitations.
The national election in Pakistan looks like a game of polarisation, but if democracy is meant to provide some relief and prosperity, all political parties have flopped, bottom up. The field is now wide open, and anything can happen - including a hung parliament.
Pakistan’s Chief Election Commissioner, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, faces a host of challenges as he oversees the transition of the country’s first civilian government to complete its full five-year term. Will he be able to overcome the hurdles and ensure the free and fair polls Pakistan has so far been deprived of?