Blocking Development of Underdeveloped World the Only Way To Preserve Our “Way of Life”?

[It is appalling that the richest country in the world, the last superpower, fights to preserve its wasteful “way of life,” by keeping the rest of the world down, blocking progress in underdeveloped nations.  Sowing unrest, promoting terrorism, blocking development…these are hardly worthy of a once-honored Nation, which has long promoted itself as the world’s greatest humanitarian power.]

Hybrid war in Pipelinestan and responsibilities of regional countries

gpolit

Exclusively written for Gpolit.com

tayab-pipelinestan

There is no doubt that the future fuel is gas. The world is shifting itself from oil to gas. So, the hybrid war erupts on the future gas pipelines. Unipolar world ambitions are fueling separatism, militancy and regime change approaches to stop multipolarity of the globe through economic integration. In other words, US/NATO is trying to craft regional problems for aiming to block China’s Silk Road caravan and Eurasian integration to secure their own interests. In this scenario, this is a responsibility for regional countries to defeat the western game plan by promoting regional agenda through minimizing/erasing regional conflicts.

It was a dream of South Asia to connect itself with energy pipelines so that energy demands of South Asian Countries should be full filled. Now this dream comes true as the part of Eurasian Silk Road vision. That’s why Eurasian bloc the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is going to connect south Asian nations with Eurasia through energy pipelines and railroad by protecting the mutual interests of the region. If Pakistan and India will join hand for the development of South Asian association for regional cooperation (SAARC), it will be a great contribution towards the multipolarity of the globe. Under the umbrella of the SCO, both have also an opportunity to minimize their territorial differences (as China and Russia did) aiming to get maximum benefits from regional integration as both have already wishing to join the Eurasian Economic Union.

Unfortunately, territorial disputes between Pakistan and India is the main hurdle to get maximum economic potential from SAARC region. But here on thing is clear that their mutual misunderstandings and conflicts cannot stop the economic development which is knocking on the door of south Asia because Eurasian land bridges are under construction.  China is constructing super suspension bridge in Yunnan province. It is expected that the construction of the bridge would be completed in May. This bridge will connect southwest of China with South Asia. It is a first Eurasian land bridge and a part of 15,000 kilometers proposed transport corridor which would pass through 17 countries. It would pass through Guangdong, Guangxi, and Yunnan before entering Myanmar and passing through Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey before continuing into Europe.

The China-Pakistan economic corridor is also the part of it, which can not only provide land access to china but it also turns the dream of the landlocked central Asian states into reality to reach hot waterways of international  trade. More as Russia and Iran are also constructing the north-south corridor as the part of the Eurasian integration. All this regional development is demanded from both (Pakistan and India) to secure regional interests rather than blocking the opportunities on the behest of West (US/NATO and Saudi Arab).

If India can join NATO’s sponsored Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline then why not it can be an SCO’s sponsored regional energy project Iran gas pipeline (also called Peace pipeline) which is the part of the North-South corridor. Although India was also the part of this peace pipeline but later on American pressure, India had refused to join it.

Indian current regime act is really confusing towards regional integration. India is interested to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar to get benefit from the North-South corridor, which connects Mumbai to Moscow via Tehran and Baku. Pakistan’s geographical location provides the shortest land route to India to reach Russia and Europe while on other side India is hesitating to join Iran peace pipeline.

TAPI a trap?

My calculations and understandings lead me to this conclusion that TAPI is a new trap for our region because it was signed by the western pressure as the part of the western game plan in this region. The US-led west needs to secure western interests through blocking the development or to be a shareholder of this integration. Later is impossible in the presence of China and Russia, that’s why the USA hassled Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to join this pipeline despite the alternate Peace pipeline. Here it is also necessary to mention that this TAPI pipeline was the main reason of Afghanistan invasion because at that time Taliban government had refused to give contract of TAPI to the US company Unocal in conjunction with the Saudi oil company Delta. Several analysts believe that 9/11 took place to justify the US invasion of Afghanistan for securing the western strategic interests.

Now USA and NATO have refused to leave Afghanistan despite the promises. The US withdrawal refusal came after the announcement of China’s belt road initiatives .

On the other hand, all regional countries under the umbrella of the SCO are trying to seek a peaceful solution to Afghanistan.  For this purpose, China and Russia have established the contacts with Taliban. Moreover, as an observer state, Afghanistan is the part of the SCO and Central Asian security bloc Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).  On the CSTO platform, Russia has offered the shoulder to Afghanistan for stability in the country.

The US is not in the mood to leave Afghanistan, TAPI has become the main reason of further stay of foreign forces. The crisis in the Middle East shows that the US/NATO presence have been the main reason of militancy,  same as the Middle East, the peace cannot come without the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

The US is already using Afghanistan’s hostile situation against Pakistan, China, and Central Asian states and now the NATO is creating a new enemy in the form of ISIS in Afghanistan. So that it can get the contract of TAPI security. That’s why NATO is supporting separatists groups against Taliban. Besides, Taliban has already accepted as a stakeholder by Afghanistan government and regional countries. That’s why Russia and China support peace talks with Taliban. But the US/NATO is the main hurdle in the peace process as they already sabotaged it.

Caspian Sea game and Turkmenistan’s neutrality

To secure the strategic interests in oil and the gas-rich Caspian Sea are the dream of US. America and Israel are working on it after the collapse of USSR.  All five states Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Iran are trying to solve the mutual conflict and routes of pipelines in  the Pipelinestan.  The USA and Israel are playing a dirty game by fueling conflicts among these littoral states. Azeri and Armenian conflict is the part of this dirty game because Azerbaijan is the energy partner of Israel. Such as they had already done it in Syria and Iraq.

In this context, Turkmenistan is a total neutral country. It is not the part of any regional or international bloc. Eurasian economic union, SCO, and CSTO invited Turkmenistan but the Turkmen preferred their neutrality but now for the security purpose of TAPI, US wants to acquire Turkmenistan’s Mary airbase.

If the Turkmen decide to turn west, it will lose neutrality and this act will step up the world into total war. Turn to the region is a better opportunity for Turkmenistan because only regional countries can provide land access to Turkmenistan.  Now it’s up to Turkmenistan, which path  it will choose, trap or regional integration.

Pakistan’s priority to Peace pipeline

Despite the American and Saudi pressure, Pakistan has given the priority to complete Iran gas pipeline during the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Pakistan.  Addressing to a press conference in Islamabad, Rouhani hinted that Iran is ready to start gas flow in Peace pipeline in two months but it’s up to Pakistan when it completes Pakistani side portion of this pipeline.

Although, the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov had also visited Pakistan before the Rouhani visit on 16 March and Pakistan assured him to continue TAPI project but the uncertainty of funding and security issues of this pipeline lead Pakistan to give the priority of Iran gas pipeline which is almost complete from the Iranian side.

To curtail Pakistan’s severe energy crises, China has stepped forward to complete the Pakistani side for this peace pipeline.  India and Afghanistan both have the option to join this pipeline. If India will become the part of this pipeline, other south Asian countries even Nepal and Bangladesh will  have an opportunity to be part of the Eurasian peace project. Besides, China is ready to turn this pipeline along China-Pakistan economic corridor.

According to reports, “China has agreed to build a pipeline bringing natural gas from Iran to Pakistan.

Pakistan’s negotiation with China’s  Petroleum Pipeline Bureau, a subsidiary of Chinese energy giant China National Petroleum Corporation is almost complete , to build 700 kilometers of pipeline from Gwadar in Balochistan to Nawabshah in Sindh, where it will connect to Pakistan’s existing gas distribution pipeline network.

The estimated cost is $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion for the pipeline or $2 billion if an optional LNG terminal at Gwadar is included in the scheme. According to the deal, 85% of the financing will be provided by a Chinese loan, with Pakistan coming up with the rest.

It is, however, Pakistan’s responsibility to complete the remaining 80 kilometers from Gwadar to the Iranian border.

Conclusion

The purpose of this write up was to highlight how TAPI has become the trap of NATO for regional countries, through it I also tried to focus that how regional countries and its security and economic institutions can defeat the unipolar world’s ambitions to block integration which is under construction in multipolar states.  Besides, as Pakistan and India are on a way to be benefited as full member status of Eurasian security bloc. Under the umbrella of  this SCO, both have not only an opportunity to minimize or erase their territorial differences aiming to get maximum benefits from regional integration but also both can change the fate of poor SAARC nations. Unfortunately, despite all the resources, South Asian nations are forced to live under the poverty due to lack of mutual cooperation and blockage of regional integration. In this scenario, our region cannot afford another war, already we are suffering in the US -led war on terror, now this time to come up for peace in the region so that economic development can flourish under peace.

Same as Pakistan and India, there is also an opportunity for Azerbaijan and Armenia (both currently joined the SCO family as a dialogue partner) can utilize their regional potential to minimize the conflict instead of fighting to each other. On the other hand,  Russia who has great influence on both can be helpful by engaging collective security treaty organization (CSTO) and the SCO to defeat western game plan in central Asia with the help of China.

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“The reality, however, is that Pakistan continues to play both arsonist and victim.”

Defiance, denial, deception & delusion

deccan chronicle

Pakistan needs to clean up its act and change its course to become a normal state.

Pathankot

 Security forces stand around Pakistani terrorists they killed during the 15-hour siege of the IAF’s Pathankot airbase. Pakistani media has alleged that India staged the attack itself to malign Islamabad. Further souring ties, Pakistan has claimed to have caught an Indian spy involved in subversive activities in Balochistan.

Seen from a rational perspective, Pakistan needs to clean up its act and change its course to become a normal state instead of behaving like a paranoid, ‘greedy’ state that leverages and encashes its nuisance value – the former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright called it an ‘international migraine’ – to rest of the world. The rational view holds that terrorism has boomeranged on Pakistan and is threatening its very existence. Terrorism has not only distorted the political system but has also adversely impacted the economy, society and foreign policy of Pakistan, ruining the image of the country and making it something of a pariah in the international community. For Pakistan to progress, it must be seen to be moving in step with rest of the world and by staying on the right side of international public opinion.

The Pakistanis pretend that they are doing precisely what the world expects of them. For a couple of years now, the spiel is that Pakistan is changing and is making enormous sacrifices in a ‘fight to save the world’ from the fires of Jihadist terrorism, which incidentally they had ignited and fanned themselves. The reality, however, is that Pakistan continues to play both arsonist and victim. The reality is also that there is practically no paradigm change in the strategic calculus of the Pakistani state, one component of which is cutting India down to size in order to establish their dominance in the region. Using jihad as an instrument of policy remains an integral and organic part of this calculus.  The outward manifestation of this calculus remaining intact can be seen in four D’s: Defiance (reflected in the way Pakistan has cocked a snook at American efforts to abjure the destabilising tactical nuclear weapons);

Denial (not just washing their hands off the Pathankot terror attack but also accusing India of mounting a ‘false flag’ operation in Pathankot to sully Pakistan’s image, and following it up with a rather shoddy and sloppy campaign embodied by the ‘spy saga’ involving a former Indian Navy officer to show India as main player behind the troubles in Balochistan and TTP terrorists); Deception (pretending to fight terrorism while continuing to support, sponsor and provide sanctuary to Taliban and other terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad); and Delusion (imagining that Pakistan is now in the driver’s seat as far as regional geo-politics, geo-economics and geo-strategy is concerned).

Rationality is, in any case, a very subjective thing. What the rest of the world sees as irrational, is perfectly rational for the Pakistanis. This is the reason that while the world was aghast at outrages like the Lahore park bombing or the school massacre in Peshawar, the Pakistani establishment saw these as a small price to pay in terms of the larger strategic canvas on which Pakistan’s strategic calculus is sought to be imprinted. In other words, what the rest of the world thought will change Pakistan’s strategic direction, is actually seen by the Pakistani establishment, at worst, as collateral damage in the pursuit of its grand strategic plans, and at best, as an opportunity to convince the world that they are the victims who need to be supported to fight the beastly jihadists.

In an interview to Al Jazeera, the former ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani admitted as much when asked about the Peshawar school attack. In the 1980s, while Pakistan was busy fuelling the Afghan ‘jihad’ against the Soviet occupation, Afghan and Soviet agents launched a devastating tit-for-tat bombing campaign in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of Pakistan. But the human and other costs of this retaliation, did not deter the Pakistani generals from pursuing their strategic goals.

The same dynamic is at play today. What is sold to the world as Pakistan changing course and fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is really nothing more than Pakistan cracking the whip on terror groups that had gone out of control or stepped out of line of the strategic imperatives laid down by the military establishment. In other words, Pakistan is trying to regain control over the terrorists, not eliminate them. This is why the ‘good’ terrorists like the Lashkar-e-Taiba are able to run Shariah courts in Lahore and the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief is protected from UN sanctions by using a Chinese veto, while ‘bad’ terrorists face the brunt of a merciless and ruthless military operation.

Another pointer that nothing has changed in Pakistan is the conspiracy theories that the Pakistanis spin to blame their problems with the TTP and Baloch freedom fighters on India. These conspiracy theories only buttress the strategic narrative and justifies the strategic calculus because the way the Pakistanis see it, these problems are imposed from outside and once they get into a position to dominate the strategic space, these problems will get sorted out automatically. Add to this denial, the delusion (evoked recently even by the Pakistan High Commissioner in India) that Pakistan is the pivot of Asia and connects South, Central and West Asia and China. This delusion, or if you will, the grand strategic design that Pakistan is the centre of gravity in this region propels the rest of the policy framework.  The problems of dealing with such a psychotic country are obvious. Worse, instead of administering bitter medicine to cure such a country, it is being given sweet pills by the Chinese, Americans and rest of the west, which incentivise, encourage and embolden Pakistan to continue along the path it is already treading. In other words, instead of improving the situation in Pakistan, the kid-glove treatment is worsening it, and making it a more dangerous place than what it already is, not just for India but also for rest of the region and world.

The writer is Senior Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation