Iran’s defiance of criminal Zioconned Western Hegemonic tendencies as desired by the US and her stupid European allies has exacerbated uncertainty and tension in the region. Hawks in Washington talked of war. But the Pentagon wouldn’t want a third front to be opened in West Asia. Instead, it went with the policy planners to take out Iran financially....
Iranian oil exports to the European countries are already suspended.... Of course, it will have its disturbing impact. Apart from that, the US is determined to screw up the mega IP gas pipeline and subject Iranian economy to stress.
The Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline was originally estimated to be a $7 billion mega project that would originate in the enormous South Pars gas field of Iran and terminate in India. Both India and Pakistan are energy starved countries. But the US relentlessly opposed the project to deny Iran the enormous revenues it was bound to yield.
US have been pursuing oil diplomacy in Central and West Asia with the main objective of denying both Iran and Russia the benefits of enormous earnings from the energy source and the revenue from its transportation.
With unrelenting pressure from Washington, India dropped out of the IPI project in 2009 but clinched the civilian nuclear technology deal from the US against abandoning the IPI. Time will decide whether this was an equitable bargain or not.
But Pakistan much more starved for power than India is, moved ahead and, in the teeth of opposition from Washington, concluded the IP treaty with Iran. The pipeline covering 2,775 kms is estimated to be built at a cost of 1.5 billion dollars.
When India dropped out of the initial project, Pakistan tried to make up the deficiency for Iran by roping in China. Chinese pipeline experts recommended laying the gas pipeline along the Karakorum Highway which meant that the IP gas pipeline would be turned northward and through PoK and Gilgit Baltistan, the disputed areas of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, to the Chinese eastern province of Xingjian.
Washington is determined to block the project. Not only India, but Pakistan, China and Turkey are also targeted to cease import of gas from Iran. How far will Pakistan resist the pressure and have her way in this particular exercise is to be watched. Pakistan’s remonstration that she is badly in need of power and the gas pipeline should be completed by 2014 if Pakistan has to survive has fallen on deaf ears. When Pakistan insisted, the Secretary of State bluntly warned that the US would take away Pakistan financially. The “more allied than allies” Pakistan never expected to be treated in a scurvy manner by her US benefactors.
Pakistan is faced with acute power shortage. Political instability and rising tension on account of Pakistan Taliban terror has brought the country to the brink of disaster. China is helping her with civilian nuclear technology to balance Indo-US agreement. Iran has also increased her oil exports to Pakistan to the tune of 80,000 barrels a day and has also provided Islamabad with $ 250 million support for laying the proposed gas pipeline on her territory.
With all said and done, the fate of IP pipe line is uncertain. Even the much hyped extension to Xinjiang, too, is faced with reservations from Beijing. First is the feasibility of the line across the Karakorum and secondly as well as most importantly, Xinjiang is in turmoil where the Uyghur's of Sunni Muslim faith are restive and demanding separation from Chinese mainland. Should Beijing take the risk of bringing the prestigious and expensive pipeline to a restive and disturbed province, is a big question. This also was the argument of India when the question of extending the IP to India came up for serious discussion…
The fate of a second pipeline, namely Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipe line called TAPI is also hanging in balance. Washington is pursuing the same policy in this case as well. It does not favor forging of gas grid between South Asia and South West Asia as, in its perception, that would change the economy of the countries concerned and with that the balance of power in the region. It can have far-reaching bearing on American dominance in the region. Perils in the path of this pipe line are many. It has to pass through the ‘satrapies’ of Afghan tribal lords who are adepts in the art of blackmailing. Then it has to pass through the northern parts of Baluchistan if it comes to India. That again is an uncertain prospect. TAPI gas pipeline has been under consideration for a long time and some Afghan tribal chiefs and war lords were flown to Texas before the outbreak of US-Afghanistan crisis.
Washington has realized that imposition of sanctions on Iran would not prove very effective to deter latter’s nuclear enterprise. Earlier also sanctions were imposed but without desired results. Economic isolation of Iran is the next strategy now pursued relentlessly by the US. Iran has begun to feel the heat.
The US does not brush aside the possibility of gas importing countries like India, Pakistan, China and Turkey bringing pressure on Teheran to reconsider her policy towards the US and Israel. Iran’s anti-Israel stance is essentially based on Iran’s urge to show down the Saudis that she has the potential to be the leader of the Islamic world. That many Arab countries are soft pedaling with Israel is no secret. In the broader context of regional strategies, each Islamic country has its permutation and combination vis-à-vis the Barbaric War Criminals and assassins of the infamous White House Murder INC, Israel and the USA.....
In order to tighten the stranglehold on Pakistan, the US Congressmen are raking up the issue of separation of Baluchistan from the federation of Pakistan’s Islamic Republic. First the human rights violations in Baluchistan and now the slogan of self-determination have been gaining momentum in that restive province. The grapevine has it that even arms and sophisticated communication material is being supplied to selected groups of Baluch mujahedeen. Recently Pakistani Prime Minister offered an economic package to Baluchistan to mollify opposition. But this is not the first time that such gestures of so-called goodwill are exuded by Islamabad. The response of Baluchis has always been the same.
Islamabad is treating the Pakistani Taliban activists with carrot and stick policy. Nevertheless apprehensive that any let down would embolden them to strike more frequently at army bases and cause further damage to the prestige of Pakistan Army, action against them in North Waziristan has been intensified by Pak troops. This is not for the love of the Americans but because the very prestige and status of Pakistan Army stands at crossroads....
By K.N. Pandita
Global strategy is opening up in the crucial north-west tribal areas of Pakistan. Waziristan has emerged as the epicenter of international terrorism. In a bid to uproot terror in the region, the US-NATO alliance has already committed its proportionate military strength. Terrorists of various nationalities at war with their respective native regimes, travel all the way to find not only safe haven in the region but also the warm embrace of world’s top terrorist organizations spearheaded by Al-Qaeda/Taliban combine.
Nearly a year ago, China moved considerable manpower into Pakistan controlled Gilgit-Baltistan, the part of original State of Jammu and Kashmir. Three times larger than France, Gilgit-Baltistan borders Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to the west, Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan to the north, China to the east, Pok to south-west, and Jammu & Kashmir to south-east. This explains geo-political and strategic importance of Gilgit-Baltistan.
On October 5, 2010, Indian Army Chief, Gen. V.K Singh said in an interview that 4000 troopers from PLA were present in Gilgit-Baltistan. They were in addition to the claimed thousands of skilled Chinese laborers and engineers engaged in providing crucial infrastructure like repairing of roads, bridges and culverts etc. GOC-in-C, Northern Command, Lt. Gen Parnaik said that presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit-Baltistan close to LoC posed threat to our security.
On May 21 last, Pakistani Defense Minister, Ahmad Mukhtar accompanied Pak Prime Minister’s delegation to Beijing. In a statement he expressed his happiness on China taking over the charge of Gawadar naval base which Pakistan wants to build to counter Indian naval presence in the Indian Ocean and Gulf Region.
But while speaking in a seminar in London, Chinese Defense Minister disowned the commitment. Actually China is interested in military and not naval base, he asserted, and in pursuance of that policy, China has asked Pakistan for a military base either in FATA or FANA.
Beijing has reasons for insisting on a big military base and in the region she has demanded. First, it is to counter the growing presence of the United Sates in the region which Islamabad wants to minimize through direct or indirect manipulation. Secondly, the fast growing fundamentalist-separatist movement in Chinese Turkistan or Xingjian is becoming a worrisome development in her eastern region. Pakistan’s Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) touches on Xingjian border, and China is eager to establish its military base there to control the area and not allow pro-separatist Sunni Uyghur's of Xingjian volunteers receive training and logistical support from the FANA tribesmen and al-Qaeda outfits.
East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) thrown up by Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) has extended its tentacles in the length and breadth of Xingjian Autonomous Region, and has established liaison with a number of Islamic movements outside China, especially in the Middle East.
Beijing claims that hardcore activists of ETIM/TIP receive training in armed insurgency and sabotage from militants in North Waziristan and FANA of Pakistan. It is more than a decade that Beijing has been fighting counter-insurgency. Beijing’s patience was exhausted when bomb blasts happened in Kashghar in which Uyghur's trained in Pakistan were involved and Beijing made a public accusation against them.
Sometime back, Uighur militants, trained and sponsored by jihadi groups in Pakistan had been arrested as saboteurs trying to disrupt law and order in Eastern Turkistan. Some of them were Pakistani national jihadis who were handed over to Pak authorities but the Uighur accomplices were executed summarily.
Beijing believes that ETIM/TIP leadership has raised safe haven in Waziristan (FANA) and their activists are regularly receiving training at the hands of terrorists of Al-Qaida, Taliban and other denomination.
A militant arrested by the Chinese in connection with Urumchi clashes between the Uighur Sunnis and Han Chinese, had confessed that the Uighur separatists received training in Waziristan despite the fact that after the Kashghar bomb blast, China had told Pakistan to impose curbs on them.
Following Urumchi and Kashghar incidents of violence, Chinese President Hu Jintao rang up Pak President Zardari and expressed his displeasure on growing activities of external terrorists in Xingjian. Pakistan swiftly promised extending all help and foreign minister Hina issued a statement saying, “terrorists, extremists and separatists in Xingjian province constitute an evil force”. In contrast to this, Pakistan calls Kashmir separatists as “freedom fighters” and audaciously announces all except military support to them, though in real terms, she gives them only military and no other support.
In October 2003, Pakistan claimed to have killed one Hasan Mahusum alias Abu Muhammad Alturkistani in Waziristan. He was labeled as the founding leader of ETIM/TIP. Next to fall was Abdul Huq al-Turkistani, the successor of Abu Muhammad, and most probably he was killed in a drone attack. Now Abdul Shakoor al-Turkistani has taken over the command of the group of Chinese (Uighur)-Uzbek terrorists in North Waziristan.
It has to be recollected that just two weeks after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad blitzkrieg, Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani traveled to Beijing to garner Chinese support in case American operations in Pakistan escalated. That was the beginning of new thinking in China to defer looking for naval bases and instead seek military base particularly in a volatile region which posed serious threat to China losing her western province of Xingjian to the Islamists.
In recent days, Chinese and Pakistani civilian and military brass have been meeting and discussing the pros and cons of China having military base in FANA. While Beijing wants control of a region of nuisance in North Waziristan wherefrom the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement gains its sinews, Pakistan Army wants to squeeze the opposition to its diktat in the region. But apart from this, both converge on countering American-NATO presence in the region and also what they call India’s “clandestine” role of creating gulf between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Only a couple of days back, the former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf, delivering a lecture at Carnegie Institute Washington issued a warning to India to desist from conspiring breach between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Pakistan has yet one more vital interest in allowing China a strong military base in FANA. She is apprehensive that ultimately Afghanistan might get divided along ethnic lines in which Pushtuns will get Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and the Northern Afghanistan could end up in an independent ethnic entity, the Greater Tajikistan. Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan may have this dimension as well. Pakistan sees Indian hand behind this plan.
Whatever the truth, the fact is that regional strategy in NWFP of Pakistan is fast changing, and China is expanding its sphere of influence westward especially in the peripheries of Hindu Kush and Pamir regions something unprecedented in regional history.....
(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).