In 1893 the British created the “Durand line” as a buffer between the Czars and the British Empire. After the British departure Kabul refused to recognize Pakistan, challenging the legitimacy of its borders. India jumped in, to encourage Afghan claims – supported by its ally the USSR. Despite the tension in its Frontier province, Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah had already pulled out troops from the Pashtun areas, confident that Pakistan had the allegiance of the tribes. Subsequent events were to prove him correct. Aslam Khattak then first secretary and later ambassador in Kabul even started a proposal for a Pakistan-Afghan confederation. Both sides agreed to work for a confederation in which the two regions would be autonomous in all matters, except for defence, foreign policy, foreign trade and communications.
IMAGE ABOVE:PAKISTAN AFGHANISTAN BORDER NEAR CHAMAN (BALOCHISTAN) EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS
AFGHANISTAN– PAKISTAN FRICTION
by Hassan Rizvi
♦ A Wider Northern By-Pass (Route 3)
Russia has proposed exporting oil north to join its existing pipeline system at Novorossiysk .This development would remove the pipeline further from Chechnya and help maintain regular flow of Caspian Sea and Kazakh oil.
♦ The Trans Caucasus Route (Route 4)
The Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) built an initial line from Baku through Georgia to the Georgian port of Supsa on the Black Sea. It is pumping a limited amount of oil since l999.This is relatively an inexpensive option, but the oil still has to move from Supsa by oil tankers through the Black Sea and the Bosporus. Turkey controls the traffic between the Black and Mediterranean Seas and does not want increased oil tanker traffic through the straits because of environmental concerns. Russia objects to this route because none of the pipeline passes through Russia. Further, this pipeline runs through domains of many fractious mountain tribes.
♦ Pipe Line To Turkish Mediterranean Port Of Ceyhan (Route 5)
The AIOC is considering this line. The route runs through Azerbaijan and Armenia, whose war over Nagorno-Karabakh is at a stalemate. Thus, the Baku-Armenia-Ceyhan route is not a near-term option. Should this conflict be settled, the route also passes through the Kurdish part of Turkey where a suppressed insurrection still simmers.
Clinton Alternative To Route 4
The Clinton administration tried to promote a pipeline route from Baku to Tbilisi to Supsa (Route 4) and then underwater from Supsa to Turkey where it would cut across Kurdish Turkey to Ceyhan. An underwater pipeline from Turkmenistan across the Caspian Sea to Baku would back this pipeline. This expensive option required regional political acceptance and Oil Company backing—neither of which the Clinton administration could obtain.
Since development of any of the above routes empowers Russia and Europe, development seems to be against long term US strategic interests. Even though pipe lines have existed in the area for long, the geopolitical and logistical nightmare involved in constructing and operating Trans Caucasian pipelines through Azerbaijan and Georgia are emphasized as formidable! Turkey (a key U.S. ally in the region) remains determined to restrict any use of the Bosphorus as a route for oil to Europe citing pollution! The possibility of such a route being affected by an outbreak of hostilities between Greece and Turkey is pointed out as a further obstacle.
Finally any European attempts at developing their own sphere of influence in Central Asia have been ruled out by two American initiatives. First, as we shall see later in this series of articles US has instigated Islamic insurgency in Chechnya. Second it engineered the dis -integration of the former Republic of Yugoslavia and carried out bombardment of Belgrade. This effectively established mutually contentious client states in the area, while also preventing the use of small sea/river tankers into Europe via the Danube, at least for the time being.
2. The China Route (Route 9)
China itself as well as the Pacific Rim is potentially huge markets. The pipe line would run from western Kazakhstan through China to the Pacific serving Chinese, Japanese and Korean markets (Route 9). It requires an enormous outlay of $10 to $14 billion. The Chinese have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a shorter $3.5-billion pipeline that would stop in China proper. It empowers China.
3. The Iranian Routes (Route 7)
Iran’s preferred route is a pipeline south from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf (Route 7). It is the shortest, cheapest and easiest route to an open port. Iran has an extended pipeline system in place, and Turkmenistan opened a gas pipeline into Iran in December 1997. The United States opposes this pipeline and tries to enforce sanctions, but other nations’ oil firms ignore the sanctions and cut oil deals with Iran. US firms continue lobbying in Washington, DC, for improved relations with Iran. It empowers Iran.
4.The Afghanistan-Pakistan Route (Route 8)
The pipe line would run from Central Asia through Herat /Kandahar in Afghanistan, on to Quetta and Gwadar/Karachi ports in Pakistan. The pipe line is relatively cheap at $1.9 billion. More over this is the only route supported by a deep water port at Gwadar allowing for bulk transportation of both Oil and minerals through super tankers. Presently the US remains opposed to development of Gwadar because of fears it would provide the Chinese a shorter approach to the Gulf. The US is therefore busy in attempts to establish hegemony in the region through exploitation of Afghanistan –Pakistan friction and China-India rivalry.USA would prefer this route over all others provided it can establish firm grip on the area to prevent any Chinese influence .This is because it is the only exit the US has a chance of controlling; also it is a route which does not empower Europe, USSR, China or Iran. The route empowers Pakistan a nation the US aims at controlling.
This dates back to 1893 with the British creation of The “Durand line” as a buffer between the Czars and the British Empire. After the British departure Kabul refused to recognize Pakistan, challenging the legitimacy of its borders. India jumped in, to encourage Afghan claims – supported by its ally the USSR. Despite the tension in its Frontier province, Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah had already pulled out troops from the Pashtun areas, confident that Pakistan had the allegiance of the tribes. Subsequent events were to prove him correct.
Even though by 1956-57 Indian and USSR interference had created a full-blown ‘Afghan Problem’ for Pakistan, till as late as the early 70’s no military presence would be needed. Aslam Khattak then first First Secretary and later Ambassador in Kabul started a proposal for a Pakistan-Afghan confederation. The response was encouraging. Following a visit by the President and PM of Pakistan to Kabul, both sides agreed to work for a confederation in which the two regions would be autonomous in all matters, except for defence, foreign policy, foreign trade and communications. The Prime Minister’s office would rotate between the two, while King Zahir Shah would be the constitutional monarch of The Republic. Even the Americans agreed to help in a big way, and actually got into post-confederation details.
But Daud on a return visit to Pakistan was fired at while inspecting a shipyard at Karachi. The bullet ricocheted off a ship to hit Aslam Khattak instead. Ghaffar Khan was released from prison and sent to Kabul, to help remove resultant mis-understanding. He agreed to help provided a referendum was held on the issue of One Unit. Pakistani President Mirza agreed to do so. Even the American Ambassador in Karachi also assured Ghaffar Khan through the American Ambassador in Kabul that the referendum would be held. But it wasn’t. And great chance to change the course of history was thus missed.
Yet Pakistan never faced a threatening military posture from Afghanistan till the mid-70s. This pattern stayed in place even during the two wars with India (1965 and 1971).
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