Pakistan ‘Punished’ in Pipelineistan

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Pepe Escobar

2011-06-24T171720Z_969297450_GM1E76P03P101_RTRMADP_3_IRAN-PAKISTAN

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) meets his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari during an official meeting in Tehran June 24, 2011.

REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

Before the end of 2011, Pakistan will start working on its stretch of the IP (Iran-Pakistan) gas pipeline – according to Asim Hussain, Pakistan’s federal minister for petroleum and natural resources. The
1,092 kilometers of pipeline on the Iranian side are already in place.

IP, also known as “the peace pipeline”, was originally IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India). Although it badly needs gas for its economic expansion, faced with immense pressure by the George W Bush – and then Barack Obama – administrations, India still has not committed to the project, even after a nearly miraculous agreement for its construction was initialed in 2008.
More than 740 million cubic feet of gas per year will start flowing to Pakistan from Iran’s giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf by 2014. This is an immense development in the Pipelineistan “wars” in Eurasia. IP is a major node in the much-vaunted Asian Energy Security Grid – the progressive energy integration of Southwest, South, Central and East Asia that is the ultimate mantra for Eurasian players as diverse as Iran, China, India and the Central Asian “stans”.

Pakistan is an energy-poor, desperate customer of the grid. Becoming an energy transit country is Pakistan’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to transition from a near-failed state into an “energy corridor” to Asia and, why not, global markets.

And as pipelines function as an umbilical cord, the heart of the matter is that IP, and maybe IPI in the future, will do more than any form of US “aid” (or outright interference) to stabilize the Pakistan half of Obama’s AfPak theater of operations, and even possibly relieve it of its India obsession.

Another ‘axis of evil’?

This Pipelineistan development may go a long way to explain why the White House announced this past Sunday it was postponing US$800 million in military aid to Islamabad – more than a third of the annual such largess Pakistan receives from the US.

The burgeoning Pakistan-bashing industry in Washington may spin this as punishment related to the never-ending saga of Osama bin Laden being sheltered so close to Rawalpindi/Islamabad. But the measure may smack of desperation – and on top it do absolutely nothing to convince the Pakistani army to follow Washington’s agenda uncritically.

On Monday, the US State Department stressed once again that Washington expected Islamabad to do more in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency – otherwise it would not get its “aid” back. The usual diplomatic doublespeak of “constructive, collaborative, mutually beneficial relationship” remains on show – but that cannot mask the growing mistrust on both sides. The Pakistani military confirmed on the record it had not been warned of the “suspension”.

No less than $300 million of this blocked $800 million is for “American trainers” – that is, the Pentagon’s counter-insurgency brigade.

Moreover, Islamabad had already asked Washington not to send these people anymore; the fact is their methods are useless to fight the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked jihadis based in the tribal areas. Not to mention the preferred US method is the killer drone anyway.

The wall of mistrust is bound to reach Himalaya/Karakoram/Pamir proportions. Washington only sees Pakistan in “war on terror”, counter-terrorism terms. Since the coupling of the AfPak combo by the Obama administration, clearly Washington’s top war is in Pakistan – not in Afghanistan, which harbors just a handful of al-Qaeda jihadis.

Most “high-value al-Qaeda targets” are in the tribal areas in Pakistan – and they are, in a curious parallel to the Americans, essentially trainers. As for Afghanistan, it is most of all a neo-colonial North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) war against a Pashtun-majority “national liberation” movement – as Taliban leader Mullah Omar himself defined it.

Asia Times Online’s Saleem Shahzad – murdered in May – argued in his book Inside al-Qaeda and the Taliban (full review coming later this week) that al-Qaeda’s master coup over the past few years was to fully relocate to the tribal areas, strengthen the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban), and in a nutshell coordinate a massive Pashtun guerrilla war against the Pakistani army and the Americans – as a diversionist tactic. Al-Qaeda’s agenda – to export its caliphate-bound ideology to other parts of South and Central Asia – has nothing to do with the Mullah Omar-led Afghan Taliban, who fight to go back to power in Afghanistan.

Washington for its part wants a “stable” Afghanistan led by a convenient puppet, Hamid Karzai-style – so the holy grail (since the mid-1990s) can be achieved; the construction of IP’s rival, the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline, bypassing “evil” Iran.

And as far as Pakistan is concerned, Washington wants it to smash the Pashtun guerrillas inside their territory; otherwise the tribal areas will keep being droned to death – literally, with no regard whatsoever to territorial integrity.

No wonder the wall of mistrust will keep rising, because Islamabad’s agenda is not bound to change anytime soon. Pakistan’s Afghan policy implies Afghanistan as a vassal state – with a very weak military (what the US calls the Afghan National Force) and especially always unstable, and thus incapable of attacking the real heart of the matter: the Pashtunistan issue.

For Islamabad, Pashtun nationalism is an existential threat. So the Pakistani army may fight the Tehrik-e-Taliban-style Pashtun guerrillas, but with extreme care; otherwise Pashtuns on both side of the border may unite en masse and make a push to destabilize Islamabad for good.

On the other had, what Islamabad wants for Afghanistan is the Taliban back in power – just like the good old days of 1996-2001. That’s the opposite of what Washington wants; a long-range occupation, preferably via NATO, so the alliance may protect the TAPI pipeline, if it ever gets built. Moreover, for Washington “losing” Afghanistan and its key network of military bases so close to both China and Russia is simply unthinkable – according to the Pentagon’s full-spectrum dominance doctrine.

What’s going on at the moment is a complex war of positioning.

Pakistan’s Afghan policy – which also implies containing Indian influence in Afghanistan – won’t change. The Afghan Taliban will keep being encouraged as potential long-term allies – in the name of the unalterable “strategic depth” doctrine – and India will keep being regarded as the top strategic priority.

What IP will do is to embolden Islamabad even more – with Pakistan finally becoming a key transit corridor for Iranian gas, apart from using gas for its own needs. If India finally decides against IPI, China is ready to step on board – and build an extension from IP, parallel to the Karakoram highway, towards Xinjiang.

Either way, Pakistan wins – especially with increasing Chinese investment. Or with further Chinese military “aid”. That’s why the Pakistani army’s “suspension” by Washington is not bound to rattle too many nerves in Islamabad.

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Houstonian Corner (V12-I5)

January 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Picture AQ Picture 11
   
Above left:  METRO Bus…; Above right: TCF Primary School in Pakistan…
 

Houston Energy Corridor Has METRO Service

Houston, Texas: Energy Corridor District of Houston has partnered with METRO to launch the Route 75 Energy Corridor Connector, starting this past Monday 01-25-2010. The new service will run along Eldridge between the Katy Freeway and Westheimer. This will provide employees and residents who live and work in the Energy Corridor District a quick, convenient ride to stores, restaurants and businesses along the route, according to Metro officials.

Energy Corridor District employees who live in the downtown and Midtown areas can connect to the 75 Energy Corridor Connector by riding the 228 Addicks and 229 Kingsland/Addicks from the Central Business District to the Addicks Park & Ride. The Connector also links with popular routes like the 82 Westheimer and the 131 Memorial.

Service will run every 15 minutes, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will also run every 10 minutes from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

TCF: Beacon of Hope in Pakistan

“Problems in Pakistan are many: Poverty, Health, Education, and so on. As conscientious persons, founders of the Citizens Foundation (TCF) reached the conclusion after much deliberations that eradicating illiteracy and bringing real high standard schooling to the children of Pakistan is the solution to all problems: These were the words of Dr. Ahson Rabbani, Vice-President of TCF, who came for a special brunch event organized by Houston Community Activist Abdullah Jafari & his wife Anjum at the Crown Plaza Hotel Kirby. Also present on the occasion was Danial Noorani, CEO of TCF-USA, a non-profit entity in USA, which helps the educational services of TCF in Pakistan and gives chance to American donors to invest their hard earned money in a worthwhile cause and get tax deduction benefits at the same time.

TCF, established in 1995, is a unique foundation providing formal education for the less privileged children of Pakistan. The model on which it works is that education for the poor will not be poor (not substandard). Purposeful primary and secondary school buildings each accommodating 180 students and have art room, library, computer lab and toilets: Taking students off the streets and into schools: Maintain self-esteem of children by asking them to pay minimum Rs. 10/Month: TCF Schools are not limited to certain communities; they are present across Pakistan and constantly growing in number: TCF is a professionally managed by a team of highly dedicated leaders and staff employed on a full-time basis – Currently, there are 6000 full time employees, which includes 4150 qualified teachers: Comprehensive & dynamic curriculum as officially prescribed syllabus by the government, which is not taught at government schools, but here with TCF with the help of an army retired officer all schools are checked through secret visits that they are functioning.

As of 2009, TCH has 600 School Units (459 Primary School Units / 141 Secondary School Units); a network of 600 purpose-built operational school units nationwide; an enrollment of 80,000 students; a balanced gender ratio, which is close to 50% female students; has created 6,026 jobs of which 4,150 are female faculty positions.

“Although we have tried to apply for grants through USAid and other worldwide agencies and corporations, but we have not yet been very successful in getting such assistance: We believe that is not a problem, since this issue of eradicating illiteracy and making Pakistani citizens well educated and skilled is our own challenge and we should be at the forefront of resolving these issues with our monetary as well as moral support of all Pakistani: Added Danial Noorani.

For more information, once can always call Abdullah Jafari at 713.907.7786.

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