02 Apr


Geostrategic significance refers to a country's importance derived from its geographic location, enabling it to gain geopolitical advantages. Pakistan is located in a region which has great economic, political and strategic location. Stephen Cohn highlights the significance of Pakistan's geography, noting that despite a tumultuous history, its geographical location has proven to be its greatest asset. Over the past three decades, Pakistan has served as a focal point for major powers and has experienced interventions from three global powers. i.e. Britain, USSR, and USA. During the Cold War, Pakistan's importance grew as it aligned itself with the United States in the containment policy against the USSR. Now, the post-cold war era has witnessed significance of Pakistan after the 9/11 incidence.

Geographical description of Pakistan

Pakistan is located between 24 to 36 latitude North and between 61 to 75 longitude East. Pakistan is located in such an area that it has many important countries as its neighbors. 

Toward East, India is located with 1650 Km long border (LOC) with Pakistan. To the west, Afghanistan shares a border (the Durand Line) stretching 2250 kilometers, while to the north, China borders Pakistan with a boundary spanning 400 kilometers. Pakistan is also separated from Tajikistan in North by a narrow trip (27 Km) called "Wakhan'. Towards South, Arabian Sea is located with coastal belt of about 700 Km from Makaran to Karachi. In the South West, Iran is located with 600 Km long border. Pakistan's strategic importance is heightened by its proximity to the Persian Gulf, a region responsible for over 65% of global oil production.

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Geo-strategic Importance of Pakistan

i) Proximity of Great Powers :

Pakistan is located in the junction of great powers. It has great world powers Russia and China as its neighbors. Likewise, India, another rising global power, shares a lengthy border with Pakistan. Pakistan has utilized this factor after 9/11 incidence because the US interest in this region has increased

ii) Political importance of Pakistan

Pakistan has India, China, Russia, Iran and Afghanistan in its neighbors. The presence of these neighboring countries has contributed to the heightened significance of Pakistan. US interests in this region have increased because it wants to contain growing China and nuclear Iran. US forces are also fighting against terrorists in Afghanistan. US also wants to capture the market of India which is a market of more than 1.25 billion population. American think tanks have repeatedly accepted that war against terrorism cannot be won without the support of Pakistan. Thus, all above factors have increased the political importance of Pakistan

iii) Gateway to Central Asia

Central Asia is the centre of new great game because of its oil and energy resources. Given its location amidst energy-rich nations like Iran and the Central Asian countries, as well as energy-deficient countries like India and China, Pakistan has emerged as a pivotal gateway to Central Asia energy resources and to the other world.

iv) A transit economy for China and CARs Countries

Pakistan has the potential to develop itself as a transit economy on account of its location. For example, China is a growing economy with growth rate of more than 9%. Pakistan is focusing on the development of its southern underdeveloped provinces, such as Xinjiang, which lies 4500 kilometers from China's own ports in Beijing, whereas it is only 2500 kilometers away from the port of Gwadar in Pakistan.. Currently, China is going to invest $45billion in Pakistan for CPEC from Kashghar to Gwadar because of the route savings to China.

Similarly, Central Asian Republics (CARS) are energy-rich but land-locked countries of the world. Pakistan offers shortest route to these countries (2600Km) as compared to Iran (4500 Km) and Turkey (5000 Km). CARs can reap many benefits by using ports of Pakistan.

v) Important link in the chain of Muslim world

If we look at the world map, we find that Pakistan is located almost in the center of Islamic countries. In the west of Pakistan, Iran, Middle East and North African countries are located. In the East, South Eastern Asian Muslim countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh etc are located. Thus, it can actively take part in the transportation of resources and economic development of the Muslim world.

vi) Coastal Highway and Ports

Pakistan has 700 Km long coastal highway from Makran to Karachi. It also has three important warm water ports of Gwadar, Bin Qasim and Karachi. Gwadar has a lot of significance for China and CARs. Similarly, Karachi is also important for the world because it is refueling stop for ships apart from commercial activities. Other ports can also be constructed on coastal highways.

vii) Mountain ranges

Pakistan's mountain ranges boast two of the world's tallest peaks, namely K-2 and Nanga Parbat. These mountains save Pakistan from cold Siberian winds. Also, these mountains are the source of water because all rivers of Pakistan originate from these ranges.

vii) Minerals-rich country

Pakistan is also rich in mineral resources like Gold, Copper, Salt, Coal etc. RecoDiq (believed to be the 5th largest gold mine) contains large reserves of gold and copper and rare earth minerals. Large reserves of coal are found in Thar and of salt in Kheora. Although Pakistan is rich in resources, it is poor in managing these resources.

ix) Only nuclear-capable Muslim country

In the region, Pakistan is the only Muslim country having nuclear capability which has great influence on the political, socio-economic activities in the region and upholding the prevailing state of affairs in the region.

4. Geo-strategic inertia (why Pakistan is not getting benefits from its location)

The advantages stemming from geographical location can be realized only in the presence of political, economic, and social stability within the country. Resources are properly managed and efficiently used. Law and order situation, corruption and inflation are in control. Pakistan has a lot of geo-strategic importance but, unfortunately, it is not getting its full benefits because of several factors. These factors are termed as "Geo-strategic inertia of Pakistan'.

I) Terrorism

Terrorism is the main hurdle in the way of getting benefits out of strategic location by Pakistan. Because of it, no country is willing to invest in Pakistan.

ii) Baluchistan Issue

Because of poor law and order, instability and freedom movement in Baluchistan, no investor is wiling to invest in Baluchistan - the high risk area.

iii) India as a factor

India is the biggest enemy of Pakistan and it always propagates against Pakistan. RAW (Indian intelligence agency) is also involved in Baluchistan issue. Three wars have already been fought by India and Pakistan. This enmity is the main hurdle in the way of Pakistan to get benefits out of its location.

İv) Trade sanctions on Iran

Sanctions on Iran because of its denial to give up its nuclear program are also hurdle in the completion of Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.

v) Energy crisis

Pakistan is currently facing the severest energy crisis of all times which is also a hindrance in the way of Pakistan to get benefits of its location.

vi) Political instability

Frequent change of government on one part and enforcement of martial law on other part also disable Pakistan from getting benefits out of its strategic location.

5. Way forward / Recommendations / How to reap benefits

i) Terrorism control

Effective steps should be taken to get rid of the devil of terrorism. Strategic benefits can be achieved only when there is political, economic, and social stability in Pakistan and peace is of utmost importance for achieving stability. For achieving peace, terrorism must be eradicated from its root from Pakistan.

ii) Focus on Technological improvements and Research and Development

Technical competency and research and development can put Pakistan on the way of development which will also enable Pakistan to reap benefits due to its strategic location.

iii) Economic, Political and Social stability and growth

Economic, political and social stability and growth will lead to the development of prosperous Pakistan resulting in healthy. wealthy and happy people which will enable Pakistan to reap advantageous of its location.

iv) Focus on education

Education is very important for the development and stability of Pakistan. Pakistan should focus on the education of its people which will enable it to reap benefits of its location.

v) Resolution of Kashmir issue

Resolution of Kashmir issue will not only end almost all of the war-related tensions of Pakistan but also it will result in availability of funds for investment purposes which are otherwise being allocated for defense purposes ( non-development expenditures). Resolution of Kashmir issue will help Pakistan reap benefits of its location.

vi) Ensure inter-provincial harmony and cooperation

Pakistan needs inter-provincial harmony and cooperation for achieving peace in the country which will help Pakistan in achieving benefits of its location.

vii) Positive role of media

Media should play its role for building a positive image of Pakistan in the international world which will help Pakistan in achieving benefits of its location.

ii) Get rid of energy crisis

Solution of energy crisis by exploiting water, wind, tidal, solar and nuclear sources of energy will also help Pakistan in its development and in reaping benefits of its location.

6. Conclusion

Pakistan has great geo-strategic importance. It is located in the junction of South Asia, west Asia, and central Asia. It is a way from energy-rich to energy-deficient countries. World is facing the problems of energy crisis and terrorism and Pakistanis on the route of energy transportation and front- line ally in war against terrorism. But, unfortunately. Pakistan is facing geo-strategic inertia, due to energy crisis, terrorism and political instability, which is a hurdle in the way of Pakistan in achieving benefits accruing it based on its location. Geo-strategic importance of Pakistan will be promoted if Pakistan is able to get rid of this geo-strategic inertia. Moreover, Pakistan has been traditionally ally of emerging economic giant; china. So in the vague of any change in world politics, Pakistan's geo-strategic significance would further be enhanced.

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