Iran-Pakistan strikes: 5 reasons why India’s stakes deepen in the new Great Game

Iran-Pakistan strikes: 5 reasons why India’s stakes deepen in the new Great Game

Context: The tit-for-tat missile strikes between Iran and Pakistan this week, coming on top of the attacks on Indian shipping in the Red Sea, highlight the interconnected insecurities of the Subcontinent and the Gulf.

Which broad trends in security interdependence have come to the fore?
• First, the tragedy of the Baloch minorities, who straddle across Pakistan and Iran and are now targets of the attacks by Tehran and Rawalpindi, draws attention to the fragility of Pakistan’s western borderlands.
• Second, beyond the bilateral, the dissident groups are caught up in regional power politics between Arabs, Israelis and Iranians. The ungoverned and under-governed spaces in the Baloch lands provide fertile ground for smuggling, narcotics trafficking, and cross-border political militancy backed by third parties.
• Third, beyond the regional, Balochistan’s geopolitical location – at the mouth of the oil-rich Gulf also makes it part of the new great game.
• Fourth, Afghanistan and Iran have long had their share of problems with each other such as differences over religious ideology, minority rights, border management, and sharing transborder rivers, among others. The Afghans (Talibans) are likely to seize the possibility of inserting itself into the Gulf to win new friends and expand its influence.

What are the concerns for India?
• The fragility of the Baloch frontier connecting South Asia and the Gulf, China’s strategic presence in Balochistan, and Beijing’s growing role in the Gulf are of deep concern to India.
• Delhi has traditionally stayed neutral in the conflicts within the Middle East. But Delhi might find it increasingly hard to do as India’s economic and security stakes rise in the volatile Middle East.
• Indian ships have already been attacked in the Arabian Sea threatening its commercial lifelines, and unsurprisingly, India has deployed ten warships to protect its interests.

• India’s clear stand against terrorism, its close ties with Israel, and its deeper engagement with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are all new elements of New Delhi’s Middle East policy.

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