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  • This is Pakistan, a large country in South Asia that on paper doesn't look like that heart of a starting position to be in.

  • But make no mistake.

  • If real life was like a game of Sid Meier's civilization than playing, Pakistan would be one of the most difficult sieves in the entire game toe win as because their starting position is absolute hot garbage.

  • And here's why Pakistan's political borders don't really make a lot of sense when you study them a bit more closely.

  • If we switch maps styles to a topographic map, you can see that none of Pakistan's borders really follow any clear geographic boundaries like rivers or mountains.

  • And when we switched to an ethnic map, you can also see that Pakistan's borders don't really appear to follow any clear ethnic divisions, either.

  • What Pakistan's borders do follow instead is the religious border between the majority Muslim and majority Hindu areas of the Indian subcontinent, and that's not by accident.

  • It was designed that way from the beginning, on purpose.

  • And like most messy border problems across the world, it's all the fault of the British.

  • A long time ago, the entire Indian subcontinent was ruled by the British, but in 1947 they decided to let it all go in grant independence.

  • But when they did, they decided to partition the colony of India into two separate, newly independent states.

  • A majority Hindu country that became India and a majority Muslim country that became Pakistan.

  • The two were separated exclusively based upon the borders of the majority Muslim and the majority Hindu areas in the empire, without any regard to natural geographic boundaries.

  • And this has created hosts of problems for both countries.

  • In the case of Pakistan, this created a long border with India, from the Arabian Sea through the salt marshes of the Rann of Kutch, the vast inhospitable tar desert, the fertile plains of the Punjab and up through the high mountains of the hotly contested province of Kashmir.

  • Most of this border is recognized and accepted by both Pakistan and India until it gets to the cashmere area, which is a territory claimed entirely by both of them.

  • They've both fought multiple wars against each other for control over the whole thing.

  • As it stands now on the ground, the line of each other's actual de facto control across the province looks like this, which is effectively the border between them, even though nobody actually recognizes it as such.

  • This line was created upon the cease fire line that concluded the 1971 war between them.

  • But there was one incredibly stupid problem with it.

  • It doesn't extend across the entire province.

  • It literally abruptly just ends right here, which left a lot of vague uncertainties as to who, exactly controlled what's beyond it towards China.

  • The reason that the line ended where it did was because it was at the foothills of the colossal Karakorum Mountain range, so all of the land beyond it was just extremely inhospitable and effectively imp passable glaciers.

  • The U.

  • N.

  • Just assumed that neither side would really care about its butts care.

  • They did.

  • Beginning in 1984 both sides realized that there was an active geographic hole in their de facto border that the other side could take advantage of, and so they both attempted to plug it up with thousands of troops trying to outmaneuver the other in order to secure the strategic high ground and mountain passes that lead into each other's sides.

  • The high altitude combat 6000 m up above sea level took place here in the CIA Shen glacier area, and the elements claimed the lives of thousands of men from both sides.

  • By the end of the conflict in 2003, India had secured the high ground in the area and control over the main passes through, which gives them the geographic advantage in the area.

  • To this day, India is without a doubt Pakistan's biggest rival on the world stage, and the whole border between the two is considered to be one of the most dangerous places in the entire world.

  • And if all out war ever were to break out between them, Pakistan has really weak geographic armor for defenses across the entire line.

  • As the situation in Kashmir stands today, the Indian military occupies a line that's only 83 kilometers away from the center of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

  • If Pakistan could control all of Kashmir, it would push the Indian lines far away from the capital city and established a massively significant mountains shield that the Indian army would struggle to punch through to get there.

  • This this is partially why Kashmir is of such massive strategic value to Pakistan.

  • But as it is now, the Indian army controls most of it and is within striking distance of the capital.

  • The only big mountains that Pakistan controls along the Indian border that could be used for defense are all located in the far north of the country, far away from all of Pakistan's major population and economic centers, which means that any Indian advance could just simply ignore them.

  • The Indus River is one of the biggest rivers in the world and would make a great defensive line, but unfortunately it runs roughly through the middle of the country, which means that falling back behind it would mean surrendering half of the country.

  • By that point, the system of India's tributary rivers that runs through the Punjab province are somewhat defensible.

  • But even still, the Indian army could punch through all of these highlighted areas without ever having across a river, and that includes some of Pakistan's most major population centers like Lahore, Faisalabad, Hyderabad and the capital, Islamabad.

  • Further complicating things is that Pakistan is a relatively easy country to blockade.

  • She only has a narrow stretch of coastline here in the south on the Arabian Sea and only a handful of significant ports on it that, if eliminated, can aff effectively transformed Pakistan into a landlocked states.

  • The port of Karachi alone handle 60% of all of Pakistan's cargo, owing to its strategic location near the Strait of Hormuz, or it in trade routes in the world, where 25% of all the world's oil passes through.

  • This heavy reliance on a single city for supplies makes Pakistan exceptionally vulnerable.

  • If just Karachi could be blockaded or captured that immediately halt 60% of Pakistan's cargo and supplies from getting inside of the country.

  • But the border with India and the over reliance on a single port are not the only crappy border situations that Pakistan has to deal with.

  • There is another, and it's another British created mess here with Afghanistan.

  • The British also created this border back in 18 93 as the boundary between British India and Afghanistan and Pakistan simply inherited the mess for themselves upon independence in 1947.

  • The main problem with it is that it divides the ethnic territory of the Pashtun people between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is awkward because the Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group inside of Afghanistan, and they largely ruled that country.

  • So the Pashtuns of Afghanistan have long desire to be reunited with the rest of the ethnic Pashtuns across the border in Pakistan, and Afghanistan, often lays claim to an extended border that stretches this deep into Pakistan to cover it.

  • As recently as 2017, the president of Afghanistan has stated that Afghanistan will never recognize the border with Pakistan.

  • As it stands today.

  • When Pakistan joined the United Nations in 1947 there was only a single country who voted against them joining it, and it wasn't India.

  • It was Afghanistan.

  • So because of these messy borders left over by the British, Pakistan faces enemies on both of her flanks who openly claimed territory that Pakistan also claims or controls.

  • This means that the prospect of a two front war against both parties if they ever allied with one another against Pakistan is a very real possibility.

  • Therefore, it has always been within Pakistan's best interests to seek influence in Afghanistan and attempt to pacify their government by any means necessary in order to keep this for from happening.

  • It also doesn't help, though, that the border runs right through the middle of the extremely mountainous part of the Pashtun tribal lands, which makes the border extremely difficult to govern police and control for both countries, drug smugglers, terrorist groups like the Taliban and other CD individuals routinely cross it between both sides, which also makes this border one of the most violent and unstable places in the entire world, meaning that Pakistan has two inherently unstable borders on either side.

  • This on Lee leaves Pakistan borders with two other countries, Iran and China.

  • The border with Iran is through the sparsely inhabited, arid province of Baluchistan, which, like the Pashtuns, cuts the Baluch people between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

  • Unlike the Pashtuns, though, the Baluch don't have an independent state of their own, so they can't pose an existential threat to Pakistan in the same way that the Pashtuns of Afghanistan do.

  • Iran and Pakistan cooperate to an extent on squashing Baloch separatism in their respective zones of control, But a working alliance between the two is severely complicated by Iran's Shia government and Pakistan's Sunni government.

  • This leaves Onley China as a potential geographic ally for Pakistan in the region.

  • And sure enough, China is without a doubt Pakistan's closest ally on the world stage.

  • The geography of Pakistan is more challenging and difficult than most.

  • But with strong leadership, shrewd alliances and careful diplomacy, even a difficult situation like this can be made manageable.

  • Now.

  • Difficult situations come in all different shapes and sizes.

  • There's macro difficult situations like Pakistan's geography.

  • And then there's micro difficult situations like you being trapped inside of your house all day because of a global pandemic.

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Why Pakistan's Geography Sucks

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/30
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