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US-Iran standoff: Options and implications for Pakistan discussed at IPS

June 02, 2019 | BK ONLINE

Tensions between the US and Iran are intensifying with war drums in the Gulf region beating once again. The US has also intensified a worldwide ban on the trade of Iranian oil with no exemptions as enjoyed by a few countries, including India, earlier. India’s Oil Minister has also stated recently that his country will replace US-sanctioned Iranian oil Imports with those from major-oil-producing countries, casting negatively on India’s relations with Iran. Pakistan, too, despite having brotherly ties with Iran since its independence had not been able to resist the sanctions and is unable to go ahead even with the completion of Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project. In the changing regional scenario with Iran being backed by Russia, and arguably China, does Pakistan stand any chance to extend support to Iran going ahead with IP Gas and connecting Gwadar and Chahbahar as sister ports under CPEC/BRI? Such a proposition may help offset Indian designs against Pakistan via Iran but would antagonize not only the US but also friends like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

 To assess this puzzling scenario a brainstorming session was held at Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), which was addressed by Khalid Rahman, executive president IPS, Ambassador (retd) Tajammul Altaf, senior research associate, Air Commodore (retd) Khalid Iqbal, senior research associate, Dr Syed Mohammed Anwar, president, Maritime Study Forum (MSF) among other analysts and researchers.

 Commenting on the developing scenarios, Khalid Iqbal, was of the view that US is now softening its position towards Iran and situation could move towards peace.  Iran should adhere to the terms of its deal in order to ensure its credibility, which could win Iran a conditional support from Europe, China and Russia.   On the role of Pakistan, he advised that Pakistan should not jump in anyone’s war and should play a role similar to the one it played in Yemen conflict.  He further stated that Pakistan cannot afford to be in cross-fire between Saudi Arabia and Iran. However, Pakistan can also not afford instability on three of its borders.  Therefore, Pakistan should stay neutral in this issue and should work towards bringing peace in the region. 

 Tajammul Altaf stated that although US-Iran standoff is alarming, most of the analyst agree that US will not engage in a new front as it is already losing its war in the Afghanistan. He also stated that war between US and Iran could only be the last resort and it is not a viable option as of now.  He noted that ever since the end of cold war, US considers itself a hyper super power and wants to maintain this status.  In this regard, it is important for USA to contain the rising economic status of China. As a result, US aims to spoil CPEC and other projects of Belt Road Initiative (BRI).

 Reviewing the rising tensions between Iran and US, Ambassador (retd) Altaf noted that US will not apply direct force on Iran, but will attempt to coerce Iran through a collaborative front of Arab countries and Israel.  The US also supports India to play the role of a policeman in the region. 

 He said, Pakistan needs a balanced approach towards Saudi Arabia and Iran. US wants Iran to implode from inside. However, it is a clear fact that Pakistan will never be party to any American efforts of a regime change in Iran.  Russia and China are observing the situation and have extended their support to Iran. 

Altaf also highlighted that India has been successful in keeping its economic and diplomatic relations intact with both Iran and the Arab world.  He noted that this situation will not impact Indo-Iran relations to a great extent.  Finally, he concluded that Pakistan will not play the role of a frontline state in the conflict, but it could not be completely neutral on Iran due to the Saudi factor. 

 Dr Syed Mohammed Anwer noted that India accepted the US stance on Iran despite its good relations with Iran and its investments in Chahbahar port. Although now India has reversed its position and US has also softened its tone on Iran, Pakistan can have some opportunities to further improve its relations with Iran.  Nevertheless, foreign policy is a long process and cannot be decided by few emerging developments.  He also noted that although Pakistan and Iran have workable relationship with each other, they do not have a trustworthy relation. He further noted that Iran’s Chahbahar is also being used to sabotage Pakistan’s development plans.

 He highlighted three main potential points of cooperation between Pakistan and Iran. FirstIndia is trying to bypass Pakistan through Chahbahar in order to conduct trade with Afghanistan and beyond.  However, Zahedan and Chaman could be promoted as an alternate transit route.  Development of this alternate route can improve Pak-Iran relation and could stabilize Balochistan.  Second, the commercial and strategic aspects of Iran Pakistan gas pipeline must be analyzed thoroughly and steps must be taken to materialize this project. Third, Gwadar and Chahbahar could be sister ports if a land route/physical road is developed between the two.  The total distance between the two ports in not more than 80 kms. These three aspects could also lead towards improved security of the region, he claimed.

 Khalid Rahman concluded that this is a highly complex subject matter.  Pakistan needs a basic framework and a long-term perspective to act accordingly in any situation.  Nevertheless, Pakistan cannot ignore any potential conflict in its immediate vicinity.  He also noted that chances of a direct US armed conflict with Iran are less as Iran is different than Iraq and Afghanistan.  He further stated that in the backdrop of the existing situation, Pakistan does not have a variety of policy options, but it should keep on promoting peace in the region. 

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US-Iran standoff: Options and implications for Pakistan discussed at IPS

June 02, 2019 | BK ONLINE

Tensions between the US and Iran are intensifying with war drums in the Gulf region beating once again. The US has also intensified a worldwide ban on the trade of Iranian oil with no exemptions as enjoyed by a few countries, including India, earlier. India’s Oil Minister has also stated recently that his country will replace US-sanctioned Iranian oil Imports with those from major-oil-producing countries, casting negatively on India’s relations with Iran. Pakistan, too, despite having brotherly ties with Iran since its independence had not been able to resist the sanctions and is unable to go ahead even with the completion of Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project. In the changing regional scenario with Iran being backed by Russia, and arguably China, does Pakistan stand any chance to extend support to Iran going ahead with IP Gas and connecting Gwadar and Chahbahar as sister ports under CPEC/BRI? Such a proposition may help offset Indian designs against Pakistan via Iran but would antagonize not only the US but also friends like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

 To assess this puzzling scenario a brainstorming session was held at Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), which was addressed by Khalid Rahman, executive president IPS, Ambassador (retd) Tajammul Altaf, senior research associate, Air Commodore (retd) Khalid Iqbal, senior research associate, Dr Syed Mohammed Anwar, president, Maritime Study Forum (MSF) among other analysts and researchers.

 Commenting on the developing scenarios, Khalid Iqbal, was of the view that US is now softening its position towards Iran and situation could move towards peace.  Iran should adhere to the terms of its deal in order to ensure its credibility, which could win Iran a conditional support from Europe, China and Russia.   On the role of Pakistan, he advised that Pakistan should not jump in anyone’s war and should play a role similar to the one it played in Yemen conflict.  He further stated that Pakistan cannot afford to be in cross-fire between Saudi Arabia and Iran. However, Pakistan can also not afford instability on three of its borders.  Therefore, Pakistan should stay neutral in this issue and should work towards bringing peace in the region. 

 Tajammul Altaf stated that although US-Iran standoff is alarming, most of the analyst agree that US will not engage in a new front as it is already losing its war in the Afghanistan. He also stated that war between US and Iran could only be the last resort and it is not a viable option as of now.  He noted that ever since the end of cold war, US considers itself a hyper super power and wants to maintain this status.  In this regard, it is important for USA to contain the rising economic status of China. As a result, US aims to spoil CPEC and other projects of Belt Road Initiative (BRI).

 Reviewing the rising tensions between Iran and US, Ambassador (retd) Altaf noted that US will not apply direct force on Iran, but will attempt to coerce Iran through a collaborative front of Arab countries and Israel.  The US also supports India to play the role of a policeman in the region. 

 He said, Pakistan needs a balanced approach towards Saudi Arabia and Iran. US wants Iran to implode from inside. However, it is a clear fact that Pakistan will never be party to any American efforts of a regime change in Iran.  Russia and China are observing the situation and have extended their support to Iran. 

Altaf also highlighted that India has been successful in keeping its economic and diplomatic relations intact with both Iran and the Arab world.  He noted that this situation will not impact Indo-Iran relations to a great extent.  Finally, he concluded that Pakistan will not play the role of a frontline state in the conflict, but it could not be completely neutral on Iran due to the Saudi factor. 

 Dr Syed Mohammed Anwer noted that India accepted the US stance on Iran despite its good relations with Iran and its investments in Chahbahar port. Although now India has reversed its position and US has also softened its tone on Iran, Pakistan can have some opportunities to further improve its relations with Iran.  Nevertheless, foreign policy is a long process and cannot be decided by few emerging developments.  He also noted that although Pakistan and Iran have workable relationship with each other, they do not have a trustworthy relation. He further noted that Iran’s Chahbahar is also being used to sabotage Pakistan’s development plans.

 He highlighted three main potential points of cooperation between Pakistan and Iran. FirstIndia is trying to bypass Pakistan through Chahbahar in order to conduct trade with Afghanistan and beyond.  However, Zahedan and Chaman could be promoted as an alternate transit route.  Development of this alternate route can improve Pak-Iran relation and could stabilize Balochistan.  Second, the commercial and strategic aspects of Iran Pakistan gas pipeline must be analyzed thoroughly and steps must be taken to materialize this project. Third, Gwadar and Chahbahar could be sister ports if a land route/physical road is developed between the two.  The total distance between the two ports in not more than 80 kms. These three aspects could also lead towards improved security of the region, he claimed.

 Khalid Rahman concluded that this is a highly complex subject matter.  Pakistan needs a basic framework and a long-term perspective to act accordingly in any situation.  Nevertheless, Pakistan cannot ignore any potential conflict in its immediate vicinity.  He also noted that chances of a direct US armed conflict with Iran are less as Iran is different than Iraq and Afghanistan.  He further stated that in the backdrop of the existing situation, Pakistan does not have a variety of policy options, but it should keep on promoting peace in the region. 


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Owner, Printer, Publisher, Editor: Farooq Ahmad Wani
Legal Advisor: M.J. Hubi
Printed at: Abid Enterprizes, Zainkote Srinagar
Published from: Gulshanabad Chraresharief Budgam
RNI No.: JKENG/2010/33802
Office No’s: 0194-2451076, 9622924716 , 9419400056
Postal Regd No: SK/135/2010-2019
Administrative Office: Abi Guzer Srinagar

© Copyright 2018 brighterkashmir.com All Rights Reserved.