[Marxism] Pakistan Stressed by US Designs on Iran

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 24 09:51:25 MDT 2006

Via NY Transfer News Collective  *  All the News that Doesn't Fit
InterPress Service - Apr 24, 2006

Pakistan Stressed by US Designs on Iran

by M B Naqvi

KARACHI, Apr 24 (IPS) - As the crisis around Iran over its alleged nuclear
ambitions assumes an ugly shape, Pakistan finds itself once again, under
enormous political pressure because of aggressive United States policy
towards a Muslim country in its immediate neighbourhood.

Already, the Pakistan government is under fire from powerful Islamist groups
and political parties for supporting the U.S.-led 'war-on-terror' in
Afghanistan, especially in the border areas of North West Frontier Province.

And now the U.S. is pressing both Pakistan and India to forego the
economically advantageous Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project and think
of other ways of meeting their energy requirements.

Already the U.S. has told the Pakistan government that it can expect funding
and other assistance if the alternate Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan oil
pipeline project is pursued and the Iran project abandoned.

India is being persuaded by Washington to give up the Iran gas deal, in
return for cooperation on civilian nuclear technology. Indian participation
in the project would make the pipeline more attractive for Pakistan in terms
of an annual 700 million dollars in royalties.

On Saturday, Iranian oil minister Kazem Vaziri announced at the
International Energy Forum at Doha, Qatar that Iran, India and Pakistan were
close to concluding the seven billion US dollar gas pipeline deal.

Subsequently, both Pakistan's oil minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon and his
Indian counterpart Murli Deora confirmed the plan, although observers say
much can happen in Iran between now and the actual signing of the tripartite
agreement in June.

Said Karachi University professor and international affairs expert Jafar
Ahmad: "Superficially, it looks as if the U.S. is not capable of going to
war with Iran. Considering it's unfinished business in Iraq and Afghanistan,
the idea of adding an even bigger country to the list of targets would not
make sense."

"But on the other hand, the American administration has piled up strong
rhetoric and would seem to be preparing for military action. Some say that
the logic of the Iraq war would demand that the Americans take strong
military action against Iran also," Ahmad told IPS in an interview.

"Iran is unlikely to prove a soft target like Afghanistan and Iraq and
retaliation is certain," Ahmad said. ''Pakistan being a neighbour, is
vitally concerned and this is a reason why American pressure is particularly
considerable over Pakistan. No military action in Iran can be taken without
some sort of understanding and support from Pakistan."

"What Iran can do is considerable. It can close the Straits of Hormuz, the
narrow neck through which all oil trade to eastern Asia has to pass can be
closed by sinking a few medium-sized cargo ships. The kind of new equipment
that Iran has recently demonstrated makes U.S. naval armadas in the Persian
Gulf vulnerable."

Then, there is the question of oil. ''Should Iran stop exporting oil for an
extended period of some months, it can cause a tremendous upheaval in the
oil market. The oil prices will go through the roof. World economic activity
would be severely affected," Ahmad said.

"What is truly troubling is that Iran is in a position to hit Israel
directly just as Israel is loudly thinking of making a unilateral attack on
Iran," said the well-known academic.

A groundswell of opinion is now building up against any support by Pakistan
for military action against Iran that is not confined to Islamist groups
alone but also extends to academics, intellectuals and well-known secular

Said prominent politician and leader of the National Workers Party, B.M.
Kutty: "Pakistan and Iran are neighbours and we had better not collude with
the Americans against that country. No doubt, there is great pressure on
Pakistan to stay aligned with the Americans. But that is not something that
should be taken for granted."

Kutty said that while Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf was under
pressure from Washington, it was still possible to put up resistance.
"Pakistan ought to have been able to line up with those who are against
this likely war such as China and Russia. Pakistan's national interests do
not demand any break with Iran," he said.

As the Afghanistan experience has shown, by supporting Washington's military
adventures, Pakistan risks exacerbating fault lines that exist between its
many ethnic groups, besides angering the religious establishment.

"Pakistan runs the risk of intensifying its sectarian divide -- lining up
with the Americans would jeopardize social peace since large swathes of
nationalist opinion in Balochistan, Sindh and NWFP do not favour any
anti-Iranian stance," Kutty said. ''Pakistan should counsel caution with
its supposed ally America. Any military action in Iran by America or by
Israel would cause a tremendous impact on much of southern Asia and also
Central Asia -- what forces would be unleashed cannot be foreseen."

Said Anis Haroon, general secretary of the Pakistan chapter of the India-
Pakistan Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy: "Pakistan has no business to
support possible American action against Iran. The official line taken is
correct. But it is weak. It should be stronger in favour of peace and more

"It is time that Pakistan made it clear that we are not prepared to be
pushed around. There is no case for American military action against Iran,"
she said. "The whole brouhaha of war has been created on the basis of what
Americans think Iran wants to do. Whether Iran makes a bomb or not, would
depend largely on international situation and has to be seen against the
fact of Israel possessing a large number of nuclear weapons. No Middle East
power, which is not part of the American alignment, can be complacent about
that fact."

"For the longer-term", Haroon said, "the Israeli desire to remain the
sole nuclear power in the region is purely self-serving and ill-intentioned.
Others cannot go on tolerating it, least of all Iran."

"The Americans should do a proper cost-benefit analysis on maintaining
peace with Iran or going to war - what outweighs the other is for the
Americans to decide. We can only hope and demand that America opts for peace
in the end", said Haroon.

Said former law minister Syed Iqbal Haider: "The Americans have virtually
killed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by not implementing their
part to disarm in good faith, while others are expected to abjure making
nuclear weapons."

"Pakistan cannot remain unaffected, should aggression be committed against
Iran," said Haider. "It will have direct political, social and
psychological impact on Pakistan. In an important way it is directly linked
with Pakistan's own social and political peace."

"Pakistanis have always counted Iranians as their friends and are likely to
continue to do so in future -- where Iran is concerned Pakistan has to keep
away from the Americans," Haider said. ''For once, Pakistan should take a
strong independent line."


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