Articles and analysis

BBC Persiimage001On Press Freedom Day, this special report for Defence Viewpoints by Kasra Naji, BBC News Persian


It's the looking over one's shoulder to see anyone is following. It's not all the time but more often than I'd like to admit. When leaving the BBC's office in central London, and heading home, I look around for suspicious looking men lurking around. In the underground, I rarely stand close to the edge of the platform. I am paranoid about not sharing my home address. I have asked my child not to put photographs online.

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Statistics can be misleading. In territorial size, Pakistan is the 33rd largest country in the world. In population size, it is the world's 5th largest country and the Muslim world's 2nd largest country. It has the 6th largest, and 15th most powerful, military in the world. It is one of only nine states in the world possessing nuclear weapons. And Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) is rated as one of the top intelligence agencies in the world, writes Joseph E Fallon.

Despite such statistical strengths, Pakistan lacks security. It lacks security because it lacks strategic depth "the distances between the front lines or battle sectors and the combatants' industrial core areas, capital cities, heartlands, and other key centers of population or military production." From Islamabad, its capital, in the east to Peshawar in the west, Pakistan's width is 115 miles. The distance between Islamabad and the Indian border is 60 miles.

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USA00000IMG 00000 BURST20190107130637518 COVER"As Napoleon said, to know a nation's geography is to know its foreign policy."

To understand Russia's foreign policy, its drive for strategic depth, first understand Russia's geography of exposure, writes Joseph E Fallon. Russia is an open plain stretching 6,000 miles from St. Petersburg on the Baltic to Vladivostok on the Pacific. Most of its population, agriculture, industries, and transportation networks are located in its west in a triangle bounded by the Baltic, Black, and Caspian Seas. This is Russia's heartland. Except for the Caucasus Mountains in its southwest, Russia lacks formidable mountains or deserts to defend its western and eastern borders or protect its core. There are no Alps like Italy, no Gobi like China.

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