This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.
It looks like a negotiation tactic. Pakistani sources have let it be known that China is interested in the Iran gas pipeline if India drops out. India continues to remain cool towards the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline even after Pakistan offered to lower transit fees. And Turkey’s new proposal to route Central Asian gas to India can further change supply equations if it works out. So introducing the China bogey is an entirely predictable on Pakistan’s part.
What if it’s not a bluff and China really interested in the project? Well, good luck to the Chinese, then. The risks associated with the project—from Iran’s overselling of available reserves to the political and security risks along its passage through Balochistan—don’t change. Baloch tribals are unlikely to be less enthusiastic in taking potshots at the pipeline because it terminates in China. They haven’t been too friendly towards Chinese nationals working in Gwadar. Indeed, the security risks would be higher—because it would have to traverse Gilgit, where the Shia majority population is up-in-arms against the Pakistani government. (Gilgit is technically Indian territory, by way of Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India in 1947. Add that to the political risk).
External powers could relatively easily threaten China’s energy supplies with plenty of plausible deniability. Why would China want that?
What about the implications for India? India needs to worry about the pipeline going to China if the IPI were the only way to transport Iranian gas to India. But it isn’t. There’s LNG, for instance. As The Acorn has long argued, investing in domestic LNG infrastructure is the best way to ensure India’s energy security. It allows India to buy gas from Iran, and from elsewhere.
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