Crisis in Pakistan spells doom for Iran-India pipeline

Vol 5, PW 16 (26 Sep 01) People & Policy

Pakistan is in serious trouble and that's bad news for India, the region and the proposed gas pipeline from Iran.

Islamabad has agreed to allow US forces the use of its territory for attacks against Afghanistan. This decision, fraught with danger, could spell the disintegration of Pakistan itself.

Alarmist Not really. In India many have long predicted that Pakistan would one day fall to the Taliban monster it created.

Once ridiculed as complete nonsense this view is no longer as laughable as it was before suicide bombers crashed two airlines into the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11th killing more than 6,000 people. Pakistan is trapped between those who support US action and a sizable Muslim fundamentalist population that violently opposes it.

If the Taliban takes the war to Pakistan, as it has threatened, it will find no shortage of support. When that happens don't expect bankers or oil companies to start lining up to finance a gas pipeline from South Pars! Terrorism, long dismissed by Pakistan as an irrelevance in talks with India over Kashmir, is today on everybody's lips, not least those advising the Indian government on the route for a gas pipeline - sub sea or overland Cautious India will now be more likely to opt for the safer but more expensive sub sea option.

Unless off course Pakistan can offer firm guarantees of a 'Terrorist-Proof' overland pipeline - which it can't.