The Iran-Pakistan Pipeline

Pepe Escobar writes@ Asia Times Online about the new deal between Pakistan and Iran, the Great Game thickens, excerpt-

The earth has been shaking for a few days now all across Pipelineistan – with massive repercussions for all the big players in the New Great Game in Eurasia. United States President Barack Obama’s AfPak strategists didn’t even see it coming. 

A silent, reptilian war had been going on for years between the US-favored Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline and its rival, the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, also known as the “peace pipeline”. This past weekend, a winner emerged. And it’s none of the above: instead, it’s the 2,100-kilometer, US$7.5 billion IP (the Iran-Pakistan pipeline), with no India attached. 

Now, IP reveals Islamabad’s own interests seemed to have prevailed against Washington’s (unlike the virtually US-imposed Pakistan army offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley). The Barack Obama administration has been mum about IP so far. But it will be very enlightening to hear what former Bush pet Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad – who’s been infiltrating himself as the next CEO of Afghanistan – has to say about it. 

Sanaullah Baloch roundly denounces the “civil-military elites” of Pakistan as implicated in the systematic repression going on in Balochistan; “Without their consent, no political regime can undo their policy of continued suppression.” 

And his analysis of why Islamabad has made a deal with the Taliban in Swat but won’t do a deal with Balochis could not be more enlightening: “The establishment in Pakistan has always felt comfortable with religious groups as they do not challenge the centralized authority of the civil-military establishment. The demands of these groups are not political. They don’t demand economic parity. They demand centralized religious rule which is philosophically closer to the establishment’s version of totalitarianism. Islamabad’s elite are stubborn against genuine Baloch demands: governing Balochistan, having ownership of resources, and control over provincial security.” 

So Islamabad still has all it takes to royally mess up what it has accomplished by approving IP. For the moment, Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia win. The SCO wins. Washington and NATO lose, not to mention Afghanistan (no transit fees). But will Balochistan also win? If not, all hell will break loose, from desperate Balochis sabotaging IP to “foreign interference” manipulating them into creating an even greater, regional, ball of fire. 

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