Pakistan and Iran have finally inaugurated Gas Pipeline Project. Pakistan has also entrusted management of Gawadar Port to China. If completed successfully, these two projects would be more than fateful not only for Pakistan but also for the whole Central Asia in future. Apart from economic and commercial gains likely to be accrued from, these projects may lead to formatting the whole regional political scenario into much more integrated block consisting Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Turkey and Central Asia.
China’s oil demand is continuously increasing and by the end of 2012 Chinese oil imports have exceeded that of USA’s whose oil imports are declining due to recession and due to greater home oil production. In 2013, China’s oil imports would reach 60% of its total demand; this import rate would further grow in coming years due to further depletion in China’s home resources. Presently China’s more than 50% crude oil imports are coming from the Middle East. Gawadar is the shortest possible route from Gulf Straits to China. That is why China while managing this port would be interested to link it by road or railways to China. Consequently Pakistan would become a vanguard to Chinese imports from the gulf. It would create interdependence between the two economies.
Similarly China is destined to overtake soon Russia and USA as a dominating foreign power in Central Asia politically as well as economically; China is investing a lot in Central Asian economies. This policy is leading China and Central Asia to mutual dependence. Pakistan also may connect Gawadar Port to Central Asian states through road or railways links through Afghanistan so that Central Asian states may utilize Gawadar Port.
Thus Gawadar Port Project may link closely economies of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Central Asia; this economic interdependence would lead to regional/Central Asian political cooperation as well. Similarly Pak-Iran Gas Project would link closely both states economically and politically, and such economic and political collaboration would strengthen further the regional economic and political collaboration forged out of Gawadar Port Project.
This likely regional/Central Asian economic and political collaboration emerging out of these two projects has far reaching implications.
One implication is this regional cooperation would enable Pakistan to come out of USA’s clutches economically and politically. Once Pakistan gets out of USA’s influence and adopts independent foreign policy, Pakistan may amass lot of political and economic support using its geographical and nuclear status in the comity of world nations.
Another implication is because Middle East is becoming the greatest source of crude oil for China, this fact is compelling China to assume greater role in the Middle East. Pakistan may play its role to extend the likely regional cooperation to bring in its fold the Middle East as well.
Another implication is that Pakistan would be in stronger position to resolve its issues including Kashmir with India. India, due to Pakistan’s geography, would not be able to become a part of this likely regional economic cooperation without Pakistan’s consent, thus giving Pakistan a leverage in connection with resolution of mutual issues.
We may conclude that Gawadar Port and Pak-Iran Gas Projects are vital for Pakistan to gain enormous economic and political benefits out of its geography. Combining its nuclear status along with its geographical status, Pakistan may gain even more economic and political leverage and emerge as a potent regional force. Pakistan should not allow any short sighted political or economic expediency to ruin these projects; Pakistan’s future lies with successful completion of these projects.