Pipe-dreams take a wisdom break

Keep it up boys!

India’s negotiators have begun to play slightly hardball. But the recently speculated shift in India’s official position is as likely a negotiating tactic as it is an actual shift in thinking. Nevertheless it is good news, because it is a step in the right direction. Essentially, the Indian government is asking for door-delivery — leaving the Iranians to work out the tricky business of securing the pipeline along its route across Pakistani territory. Not a bad idea at all, even if it means a slightly higher power bill.

This is fine as far as abstract things like business models, guarantees and ownership go — but it still does not resolve that little matter of whether Pakistan’s rebellious tribesmen will be any less inclined to take potshots at the pipeline given that it is owned by those nice Iranians. And whether the nice Iranians, on their part, will treat any official Pakistani disruption of the pipeline traffic as an act hostile enough to call for stern enforcement.

Related Link: Piper calls the tune (IE)

3 thoughts on “Pipe-dreams take a wisdom break”

  1. This is excellent politics. We put the ball of convincing Pak into the Iranian court. Now Iran gets to blame Pak and Pak alone for delays, instead of blaming us both as they have been doing so far. Whatever the politics, in the end, iron-clad financial guarantees remain the key to any equitable solution.

  2. The Daily Times writes:

    EDITORIAL: Indo-Pak thrust and parry over pipeline

    India has made a policy change on the Iranian gas pipeline project transiting through Pakistan. It says it no longer wants to deal with Pakistan and will buy the gas from Iran at the India-Pakistan border if the pipeline is finally built. This is a sequel to the ill-advised proposal made by Pakistan during Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s recent visit to India. Mr Aziz offered the pipeline to India as a “stand-alone” project while India linked it to an over-all normalisation of bilateral trade and the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status. Mr Aziz had balked at this Indian link and gone on to himself link trade with the Kashmir issue. Now the Indians have responded by implicitly de-linking the proposed gas pipeline from both trade and Kashmir and put the ball back in Pakistan’s court.

    Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had told the Indians in New Delhi that Pakistan was itself short on energy and wanted the Iranian gas, and that if India did not want to be a part of the project, then Pakistan would go it alone. This was in response to the Indian rebuff to his linking of trade as well the MFN status with progress on resolving Kashmir. But surely Mr Aziz knows that he will not be able to stick to his stance for very long after the WTO conditionalities of free trade start biting in a couple of years…Therefore it is worth asking whether it was right of him to link trade with Kashmir and provoke the Indians to come up with this response.

    …But normalisation has to be pursued without too many linkages to the core issues by either side. It was therefore wrong on Pakistan’s part to soft-pedal on the MFN and to link trade with Kashmir, just as it was wrong on India’s part to link the pipeline to trade and MFN status. Now an important project has gone into the limbo of uncertainty — unless one or the other side revises its cussed approach.[Daily Times]

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