[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.]
Exclusively written for Gpolit.com
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.
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.