Idea Iran has a huge reserve of natural gas and India equally has a very huge need for this natural gas to grease its economy. The Indo American Nuclear deal which was signed in 2010 was and still is in our best interest, but if we manage to reach an equitable deal with Iran and Pakistan will be country through which the gas pipe line will be laid and it would prove very beneficial to all the three countries. This deal could forge a deep and strong foundation to bring stability to this region and quench the energy need for India and also more importantly Pakistan a country which is going through a hard time due to home grown Sectarian violence.
This idea of a pipe line is not an old idea because after the end of Second World War, many countries received their independence after being ruled for a long time by western powers or under the political influence of the west. But with independence came a new responsibility of rebuilding a nation. India became the 7th largest country on earth overnight with a population of over 300 million in 1947. But if we look at this figure now it is nothing because we are now the second largest population in the world and soon in the next 25 years will in a position to overtake China. Pakistan is also not far behind when it comes to population growth; it is now the 6th largest population in the world and nearing the mark of 200 million. In the list of top 10 most populated countries in the world India has borders with three of them China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This can be used to our advantage as we have a very young demographic or this could lead to chaos of biblical proportions.
Natural gas under the current circumstance is the answer to a lot of problems faced by India and Pakistan due to our growing need. With the advent of Narendra Modi who was giving strong signals of economic recovery during election time is now in a position to give it a green signal by setting up a committee to explore this idea and make it into a reality. The truth is time is running out because of a resurgent Russia and a very assertive China and both these countries want to be the controlling figure of Asian subcontinent. Russia and china already have signed a agreement of gas supply for over 450 billion dollars which would give Russia a massive boost to its economy and will certainly create more jobs both in Russia and china. Also since natural gas is a better alternative then burning coal, it would give China to cut down on pollution.
If we would see the map, Iran has always been considered historically a strategic location because of its proximity to Europe and Asia. It was through Iran Alexander the great came to India. And even during Second World War, Iran became a focal point of concern for Britain and erstwhile Soviet Union. In today’s geo politics the role of Iran is even more important. Iran has the second largest gas reserve in the world which is almost 16% of world reserve after Russia according to the Iran Petroleum Ministry and when it comes to crude oil Iran has the third largest reserve in the world. But the fact is there are more areas which still have a lot of potential for the discovery of Oil and Gas in the region of Caspian Sea, North East, Central Kavir and especially in areas like Aghar and Dalan gas fields in Fars province up to the Strait of Hormuz and Central Persian Gulf also have potential for undiscovered natural gas. With some much means of energy available and also so near our b order, it is only practical for India to fully explore and formulate a comprehensive strategy for our benefit and future growth.
With strong political will and the desire to do business with the west Iran can easily attract European companies to build pipe line. Iran shares a border with Turkey and a pipe line could be easily set up there and supply could resume to Europe via Black see or through the Caspian sea to Kazakhstan from were gas could be supplied to even China, since the relationship between Kazakhstan and Russia is very close minus the relationship it shares with America and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) its ongoing relationship in Individual Partnership Action Plans to which many of its Neighbors are also signatories back in 2002. But things have changed over the years because Russia under Vladimir Putin has emerged stronger economically and since Russia is the dominant force in that region it would be practical to develop stronger ties. Kazakhstan is also signatories to the The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Though Kazakhstan is still doing a balancing act with NATO and America it is very clear it now wants to play ball with Russia because they are selling their oil and gas to Russia at abnormally low rates.
For many decades the erstwhile Soviet Union the present Russia have supported Iran in its nuclear ambitions and also overlooked its nuclear proliferation through which some of the technology was achieved. Now to the west this is would be the downing of the apocalypse since after 9/11 Iran was designated as an axis of evil by President George W Bush. But one cannot compare Iran with North Korea and Iraq. Let us not forget it was the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with support from British Secret Intelligence service (SIS) or more commonly MI6 over through the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh in August 1953 because this moderate and educated leader of Iran wanted to Nationalize the oil business which send alarm bell ringing in the corridors of Washington and London. So what do the pro democracy government of west do, they manufacture a coup d’etat to and install the King Mohammad Reza Pahlavi with full powers. And after just over 25 years the Iranian revolution changed everything. The American fear and more importantly its selfishness managed to create a divide between Iran and the west. Even after this incident America has still not learned from its mistakes because it still keeps prodding into other countries business.
Iran is a vibrant society with a great past and India traditionally and culturally has very good relations, after all India is the home to the second largest population in the world for Shia Muslims. But the question in everybody’s mind is, is the Iran, Pakistan and India gas pipeline could one day be a reality because the oil coming from Middle East would soon deplete then what alternative India would have. Right now we are already the number one customers of Iran when it comes to crude oil which is a matter of great discomfort to America due to sections imposed by them. But these sections are counterproductive because the Iranians have something which the west wants and if they keep alienating and antagonizing them it they would lose in the end and India should not be caught in a situation where we find ourselves not in favor with the Iranians.
Yes the geo politics of this region is very complicated and goes back over 1500 years with divide between Shia and Sunnis so deep they have no love lost between them. This is a divide which the west has always used in this region for their benefit and with Iran developing missiles which can carry a serious payload to hit targets deep into Western Europe and Israel; it would do anything to stop it. The west the Sunnis dominated oil rich states and Israel is certainly against this pipeline and Pakistan has even received and promised more incentive if they drop this whole Idea and since Pakistan which basically relies on American money for its daily upkeep would follow suit and let us also not forget the ongoing operations in Afghanistan due to which the Pak government receives considerable aid. But this is short term gain, in the long run Pakistan which is a predominantly Sunni dominated country with closer ties to Saudi Arabia would have lot to lose because once the oil from the Saudis would stop as lot of analyst have already done comprehensive studies that, not much oil is left in the middle east, its religious dogma of considering Shia Muslims as apostates would have to be superseded by political and economic necessity.
Also China then would have the upper hand in this energy game and both India and Pakistan will be in a very vulnerable state since both countries have to cater to the demands of a very large population and any failure would be catastrophic for both nations and could plunge both our nations into a state of civil war and the riches would be divided by others.
It is quite ironic that Saudi Arabia would allow Israel to use its air space to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities because it is clear that their hatred runs very deep and they would allow Israel a country that they still do not acknowledge and still provide support to various terror organisation to cause harm to Jews. The old saying of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” truly applies here but the only problem is once Iran’s nuclear facilities are destroyed along with its infrastructure do the Arabs, Americans and Israelis think that Iran would take all this punishment sitting down or Israel thinks that if they are successful in meeting all their objectives, all the Arab Sunni dominated nation will finally give diplomatic recognition that it deserves. One can only wonder. If tomorrow Iran decides to go with Russia and China for oil and gas pipeline it is not beyond the realm of Possibility America with NATO. Israel and Saudi Arabia will attack by concocting some story of regional security.
Given that under current circumstances which Pakistan is facing the possibility of this pipeline coming to life is not possible because there is a tremendous amount of mistrust among both nations. The targeted killings of Shia Muslims in Pakistan are also not doing any favor to this situation. China and Russia are carving the entire Asian continent and unless Iran and especially Pakistan develop the ability to look beyond Western Hypocrisy and unbridled Chinese and Russian hegemony over Asia, our future is not very promising.
All three nations have to look beyond the present political climate and start making important and at times unpopular decisions for future security which would primarily be for Iran and Pakistan. Yes, if this pipeline idea is discussed and never mind if it becomes a reality, it will affect or terminate the India America civilian nuclear deal but natural gas is a safer bet against nuclear power and the problems associated with it. Not that nuclear power is bad or unsafe, India should make it clear to America that it has more to lose if it backs away from this deal because India is a not a political, economical or a military threat to the U.S or the European Union, unlike Russia and China. India should support Iran’s right to peruse peaceful development of nuclear power for its growing domestic need with proper safeguard mechanism and with regular inspection from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the west to follow suit. If this pipeline becomes a reality India and Pakistan can move forward economically and have greater political influence in this region. With clean energy coming to India and Pakistan via this pipeline more jobs can be created which all the three counties desperately needs.
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