Magazine Article - MIT Center for International Studies Audit of the Conventional Wisdom

Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline: Is It a Peace Pipeline?

| September 2007

A major natural gas pipeline that would stretch from the fields of southern Iran to Pakistan and India — itself a remarkable prospect — is being planned. But it faces serious hurdles, not least the fierce opposition of the U.S. government.

The history of relations between Persia and the Indian subcontinent is more than 2000 years old. Until 200 years ago, Persian was the language of literature and government in India. After separation of Pakistan from India, Iran faced a dilemma of its relations with these two new states. During the Shah's era, Iran preferred to have close relations with Pakistan, although economic ties with India were not ignored. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and Pakistan's support of hardliners in Afghanistan, Iran found India as a new partner in Asia. India has been slowly but surely forging a comprehensive relationship with Iran on energy and commerce, infrastructure development, and military ties. Iran looks to India as a developed, democratic, and politically lucrative country for cooperation. For instance, some 8,000 Iranian students are studying in India, compared with 2,000 in the United States.

A big market for India, Iran has the world's second largest oil and gas proven reserves, and acts as an important access route for India to Central Asia and Afghanistan. Case in point: India is seeking new routes to reach to Central Asia. One of them is the North-South Corridor, which links India to Russia and all of the former Soviet Union via the Persian Gulf, Iran and Caspian Sea. Iran's considerations are boosting trade, having secure borders, and avoiding "encirclement" by American proxies. At the same time, Iran is opposed to the hegemonic presence of the United States and its troops in the Indian Ocean. India has not been hesitant to play the Iran card to draw concessions from the United States on other matters of bilateral concern. So the pipeline is freighted with more significance than merely the delivery of natural gas.

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For Academic Citation: Maleki, Abbas. “Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline: Is It a Peace Pipeline?.” MIT Center for International Studies Audit of the Conventional Wisdom, vol. 7. no. 16. September 2007.

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