Pakistan’s overblown fears of an India-Iran economic relationship.
Opinion in Pakistan is going wacko over the Delhi-Tehran deal on Iran’s Chabahar port, which India will help develop with $500 million to facilitate its access to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Some “strategic experts” see nefarious designs in this development, and in so doing put off an important friendly state on its western border: India is encircling Pakistan by developing a threatening platform in Afghanistan with America’s help. Two incidents have made Pakistan err diplomatically: the arrest in Pakistan of an Indian RAW agent after he crossed over from Iran, and the “droning” of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour by America after he similarly entered Pakistan.
Add to that the media debate about how America has violated Pakistan’s sovereignty, and you have a scenario of immense possible self-damage. The fact is that neither Afghanistan nor Chabahar threatens Pakistan; what threatens Pakistan is its static India-centric strategic thinking. In the process, it is ignoring the fact that China, its most important ally, is the largest trading partner of Iran, projected to reach the bilateral turnover of $600 billion. It is also the largest single-country trading partner of the U.S. and has a growing trading relationship with India. Measure Pakistan’s fatal isolationism by considering that Indian premier Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran was as warmly welcomed as it was in Saudi Arabia. And Pakistan, where the Shia are currently protesting “genocide,” can hardly achieve that kind of balance.
Pakistan can hardly protest sovereignty when it can’t control its vast urban and mountainous territory from where terrorists have attacked inside Afghanistan and India. That it has been facilitating such forays is strengthened by the fact that Mullah Mansour carried a Pakistani passport and possibly lived in Karachi. Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al Zawahiri too is thought to be living in Pakistan like his predecessor Osama bin Laden; and Afghan warlords Haqqani and Hekmatyar are also rumored to be hiding here. Chabahar is a port facilitating a trade corridor just like Gwadar. And Pakistan can’t complain after foolishly blocking an India-Afghan legitimate demand for such a corridor through its territory.