By Farman Nawaz (Daily Patriot Islamabad and Daily Statesman Peshawar)
The growing energy needs of South Asian traditional rivals and their reluctance due to international pressure to take an initiative to either start the project of IPI or TAPI gas pipeline, has ultimately made the people of South Asia to suffer the long hours of electricity load-shedding as well as the higher prices of electricity units.
These two pipelines will connect three to four countries of Asia and pave the way for interdependence of two main Asian rivals India and Pakistan on one another. Both these projects can transform the traditional enmity to amity.
According to media reports these two pipeline projects have international vested interests in the background. However Asian nations can find out a regional solution to opt between these two projects and Pakistan and India can play leading roles avoiding controversies. The decision of Pakistan and India can change the fate of South Asia and Central Asia. However ignoring the interests of regional powers and accommodating the agenda of international powers, will give a chance to international dwindling hegemony in this region.
Decision in accordance with Asian interests will have the backup of Asiatic weightage of regional powers. Pakistan and India should accommodate the regional interests in opting between IPI and TAPI projects. Both these projects are for welfare of Asia but a wise decision can lead to the unity of Central Asia, South Asia and Middle East.
China has shown interests in both these projects and as usual kept itself neutral. Similarly Russia can also accommodate the Asian interests and it is better for Russia too to incline towards Asia and face the West with Asiatic weightage. However the main issue is how to accommodate the interests of Iran. Isolation of Iran is no way in the interest of Asia. Iran, whose entry to SCO is getting easy after its successful negotiations with the international powers, its natural resources must be utilized by the Asian nations.
TAPI project can lead to the establishment of trade corridors between South Asia, Central Asia, China, and Europe. Its prospects are brighter than IPI project not because it has international support at its back but rather it can become a switch for the unity of Asia. First of all it will pass through the war torn Afghanistan and bringing peace in Afghanistan must be the top priority of the region.
Peace in Afghanistan can lead to make Pakistan and Afghanistan the crossroads among Asian states. Only this aspect of TAPI gas project overweighs it on IPI pipeline. Although IPI can also join the four states of Asia namely Iran, Pakistan, India and China but TAPI can not only connect two regions of Asia but will also bring peace to the much troubled Afghanistan from where terrorism is exported to the neighboring nations including Iran. Once the much needed peace is brought to the region, the Iranian gas pipeline project can be restarted and connected with Pakistan, China and India.
The recent news that state company Turkmengaz will lead the consortium for an 1800-kilometre-long pipeline carrying gas from Turkmenistan to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, imply that Asian nations are willing to protect the regional interests and to go together. Now the need is to accommodate the interests of Iran and Russia in the future so that the dream of Asiatic Alliance can be made true.
These projects should not divide Asia but rather it should give strength to the efforts of China and Russia to bring together the Asian nations and transform this region into the hub of trade, crossroad of corridors and pipelines, and political and economic alliances.