HomeBusinessKashmir connection to Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline

Kashmir connection to Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline

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Pakistan had stopped working on this pipeline since 2013 due to strong opposition from America.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif and Iran’s President Syed Ibrahim Raisi. Photo: X/@ForeignOfficePk

Recently, during the visit of the President of Iran Ibrahim Raisi to Pakistan, it was informed that the work on the interstate gas pipeline, which has been lying in cold storage for many decades, will start soon. According to the original plan, the pipeline was supposed to start from Aslawiya in Iran, make a junction with the Turkmenistan gas pipeline coming through Afghanistan in the city of Multan in Pakistan, and then supply gas to the city of Fazilka in Punjab, India.

But in 2009, India backed out of it citing US pressure and shipping fees. The US has given India an exemption to buy gas from Iran and load it in the form of LPG at Chabahar port. Its cargo is not subject to US sanctions.

Pakistan had stopped working on this pipeline since 2013 due to strong opposition from America.

Although the blueprint for bringing gas from Iran to South Asia through a pipeline existed since the 1950s, Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao made it a reality in 1995, and a preliminary agreement was signed on the same day.

I remember that the head of the Indian Institute of Energy Research, Rajendra Pachuri, used to hold briefings on it every day and inform the media about its features. When Mani Shankar Iyer was made Petroleum Minister in 2004, he committed to complete the pipeline as soon as possible and in this regard, he appointed junior diplomat Talmeez Ahmed as Additional Secretary in his ministry and put him in charge.

But when negotiations began to sign the nuclear agreement between India and the United States, Iyer had to shoulder the burden. He was dismissed from this ministry.

Why and how did Narasimha Rao remember this pipeline? It has an interesting story and a strong connection with Kashmir. In March 1994, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, now known as the Council, presented a resolution on fighting Pakistan, condemning India’s human rights violations in Kashmir Wally was.

Unlike Palestine, Western countries had a soft corner on the Kashmir issue in those days. Because India was still believed to be under the influence of the Soviet Union lobby, which had now disintegrated. If the draft is approved, the plan was to take it to the Security Council, where other Western countries, including the United States, were set to impose economic sanctions on India. Representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference were meeting in Geneva to finalize this decision.

Indian Foreign Minister Dinesh Singh was very ill these days and was admitted to the intensive care ward of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. A few days before the meeting, Prime Minister Rao arrived at the hospital late at night to inquire about the welfare of his foreign minister. No one had a clue that someone else was lying on Dinesh Singh’s bed in his place for the next 24 hours.

Rao Bede and Dr. Samit took Dinesh Singh with them and put him on board an Indian Air Force plane and gave him a secret message to the President of Iran. On the other hand, the next day it was announced that the Indian delegation going to Geneva will be led by the leader of the opposition Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Deputy Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Dr Farooq Abdullah were also included in this delegation This was an important step to divert attention.

On the morning of March 1994, when an Indian Air Force plane landed at Tehran airport, Dinesh Singh appeared, lying on a hospital bed, with a doctor on board. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, who had come to the airport himself at that time, also wondered what had happened that the Indian Foreign Minister had to come to Tehran in such a state.

Khair Singh presented the letter of Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to Prime Minister Rao and then at the President’s request, he met Speaker Natiq Noori and returned to his hospital bed in the evening. Rao realized that if the resolution was passed in Geneva and then reached the Security Council, then Russia was in no position to veto it.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia was still licking its wounds and, under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin, was looking to the West to get its economy back on track. On the other hand, India’s economic situation was no better, only a few years ago the gold of the national treasury was promised in the Bank of England.

There is still no information about the contents of Prime Minister Rao’s secret letter, which forced Iran to withdraw from the resolution. He is still waiting for a book by an experienced investigative journalist or diplomat. But after analyzing the actions taken or the statements, there is some indication.

According to Bhadra Kumar, a former Indian diplomat, Rao had asked Rafsanjani to save India from the colonialism of Western countries, citing non-dependence.

After Pakistan, if there was any country that was practically active in Kashmir at the time, it was Iran According to Kumar, Rao knew that in the organization of the Islamic Conference, decisions were made by consensus instead of voting, that is, if even one country If doubts are expressed, the decision will not be passed. That is, before reaching the UN Commission, they wanted to end the decision in the OIC itself.

A week before this whole attempt, the Iranian ambassador in New Delhi, Ali Sheikh Raza Attar, held a dinner at his home for Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Gilani and Abdul Ghani Lun They said that the settlement of Kashmir is part of Iran’s foreign policy. Four days later, the news came that differences have arisen in the Organization of the Islamic Conference regarding the decision, Iran has refused to support any decision that would benefit the Western world.

Hurriyat leaders, Pakistani ambassador in Delhi Riaz Khokhar, were all missing. The Iranian ambassador himself did not know what was brewing in Tehran, but he was convinced again and again that India had made a big offer regarding Kashmir and the region, and it would not be good to refuse it. They probably didn’t know more than that.

When Geelani Sahib reached his Jor Bagh residence late at night, he took me with him to lead the way. Abdul Ghani Lone was telling the Iranian ambassador that he had been a minister in the Indian establishment, so he had a good understanding of the work of Indian leaders. Even if a promise is made, they won’t even name it once the pressure is off. That is also a promise, which has not been made publicly in front of the media.

Shortly after this, the foundation stone of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline was laid and named the Peace Pipeline. A few months later, when Prime Minister Narasimha Rao was on his way to the African country of Burkina Faso to attend the Non-Aligned Summit, he said that any option short of independence could be discussed for a final solution to Kashmir. His English phrase Sky is the limit for Kashmir became very famous. But later there was no progress in the pipeline and the sky as the limit for Kashmir. As soon as the global pressure subsided, they were both buried.

Vajpayee and Farooq Abdullah always took the credit for convincing Iran in Geneva. Narasimha Rao never tried to take this credit away from him in his lifetime. But two days before these leaders left for Geneva, Alil Dinesh Singh had changed the game in Tehran on Emma Rao, a top-skirted operation that reverberated decades later in Delhi’s diplomatic circles This was Dinesh Singh’s last foreign visit, and he died some months later.

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