Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Asia Times Online : Turkemenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Oil-gas Pipeline a "New Silk Road"

Asia Times Online explains the geopolitical significance of the new Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Oil-gas pipeline:
Any project that makes Pakistan a stakeholder in regional security and stability would interest India. To quote Deora, TAPI is the "new Silk Route between Central Asia and South Asia" and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described it as a "peace pipeline" in the region.

Again, TAPI signifies a step forward for the Indian quest for access to Afghanistan and Central Asia via Pakistan. India will factor in that TAPI forms part of the US regional policy focusing on the stabilization of Afghanistan, and the realization of the project may incrementally persuade Pakistan to do course correction on its support to militant groups. The project certainly offers India useful avenues of bilateral interaction with Pakistan, which can lead to bigger dialogue processes.

Indeed, the doomsday predictions are that the security situation in Afghanistan does not give any scope for the realization of the pipeline. But this is also a chicken-and-egg situation. TAPI can as well be viewed as the missing link that fosters an India-Pakistan consensus over settlement in Afghanistan. But then, in order to grasp the complicated thought, we must also take note of other subtle shades in the big picture.

India-Pakistan back channels on Kashmir are being quietly revived under US watch, and with Pakistan holding off from stirring up the uprising in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, calm has been restored. The Indian interior minister has been emboldened to speak about a "Kashmir solution" in the coming few months. There is talk in the air about the next round of talks between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers.

In sum, Berdymukhamedov is leading TAPI into the limelight against the backdrop of new stirrings. Who says he isn't a "very bright guy"? The calendar for the pipeline's completion coincides exactly with the 2014 timeline for the end of the US combat mission in Afghanistan.
IMHO, I hope it works out better than the Mosul-Haifa pipeline from Iraq to Israel's port on the Mediterranean did...