Tehran has given up on Indian participation in the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, which it is now pursuing bilaterally with Islamabad. India can join the project if it wants but Tehran’s engagement with Islamabad wouldn’t stop because India isn’t there.
This was disclosed by sources following talks Dr Ali Bagheri, deputy secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, had here with Indian officials.
They said Tehran was willing to give guarantees to New Delhi for the supply of gas through the proposed pipeline, “but India had its issues. The IPI is not on the agenda (with India) anymore because it has gone on bilaterally with Pakistan”.
For his part, Bagheri praised India’s “wiseness” (sic) in dealing with pressure from the US and the West to toe their line rather than having an independent policy on Iran. “But we cannot say whether Iran-India ties are covering the whole potentiality that exists between our two countries,” he told a select group of journalists.
The Iranian diplomat met, among others, national security advisor Shivshankar Menon and deputy NSA Latta Reddy.
“We said in the talks that both countries should explore possibilities for regional and international cooperation. Otherwise the vacuum will be filled by countries outside the region and that’ll not be good for the people of the region.”
The Iranian diplomat reposed faith in the “rationality” of the Indian leadership that he thought would take the “best decision” to meet the energy needs of its economy aspiring to be the world’s second largest. He meaningfully drew attention in the same go to the Iranian export options of China and Europe other than India.
“India has to decide how to meet its energy needs. Use of nuclear energy has become questionable after the earthquake in Japan. The demand for fossil energy is bound to increase with long term nuclear power projects on hold in Europe,” sources explained.
Security was a major Indian concern — besides pricing — in the talks on the pipeline that would have been laid across the lawless Balochistan where Islamabad’s writ is non-existent in vast stretches controlled by local tribes. But sources advised caution while considering that IPI wasn’t happening because of security reasons.
If that were so, then how was New Delhi in talks on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, they asked. “The (security) concerns that exist about IPI exist with TAPI in which case the source of (gas) supply is also dubious,” they averred.
Bagheri attributed the spread of terrorism in the region to the presence of Nato and US troops. “Countries like US are at the root of terrorism in the region. They first created the terrorist groups and have come to the region now on the pretext of fighting them,” he said. “Terrorism has increased since their arrival.”
He cited UN figures to claim that narcotics production went up four times and was the maximum in areas under the control of British troops in Afghanistan.