US administration is not happy with Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. They are equally not ready for a nuclear deal similar to Indian pattern despite continuous insistence for the same. That denial resulted in Chinese nuclear cooperation with Pakistan. Americans have suggested (or advised) to look for alternative supply routes (Trans Afghan Pipeline commonly known as TAPI) and sources including coal, wind and solar. It is interesting to note that Pakistani cabinet has just given approval for the TAPI pipeline. The proposed pipeline originating from Dauletabad field in Turkmenistan will pass through Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan and Multan in Pakistan, terminating at Fazilka, the Pakistan-India border. The cabinet decision speaks volume about the US pressures and interest in the energy corridor. India has already backed out from IPI (Peace pipeline) after voting against Iran in IAEA and PERFORMANCE FABRIC if Pakistan follows the suit or unnecessary delays and hurdles pop out, it would be detrimental to Pakistan relations with Iran. It is pertinent to mention here that World Bank joining this political chessboard has advised Pakistan to opt for the safe course as major multilateral donors will stay away from the IPI project due to strident US opposition to the project.
Richard Holbrook has assured Pakistan, if she forgoes the Iran gas pipeline project, of help in importing electricity from Tajikistan again through Afghanistan via Wakhan corridor. This all maneuvering is happening despite the simplest fact that getting gas and electricity from Iran is much cheaper, safe and easy. If you look at the route of TAPI, it is quite obvious that the project won’t be successful without peace in Afghanistan and that brings in Taliban in the energy and security calculus of the region and same was the reason of installing Taliban government, with tacit US support and approval, back in 1996. Security in Afghanistan, dialogue with Taliban elements, future roadmap in Afghanistan and role of Taliban share and stake in succeeding government in the country will also be discussed in detail during the summit of US-Pakistan if supply from TAPI is to begin in 2015, as proposed. It is quite obvious that Americans cannot win this war against Taliban and they have to agree on some accommodating structure with them. Talks are already underway and in many instances Pakistan is playing active role in the reach out because of her old and deep relations with the Pashtoon resistance. Pakistan is also ensuring that she remain in the loop and lead any negotiated settlement between US and Taliban to save its strategic interest in the country. US is apparently not very happy with this involvement but there is no way out for them. They know and realize the fact. But such a scenario of Taliban coming back to power, again with the US nod, is not dulcet to New Delhi nor for Iran. For the security apparatus in India it means a nightmare; strengthening of resistance in Kashmir and more terrorist attacks across the country on the pattern of Mumbai carnage. And to avoid that very situation India has invested heavily in the country. Do Americans share the same concerns with India? Probably not. Gen McChrystal has already spoken on the issue of Indian engagement in Afghanistan.