(Prof. Safdar Sandal) China and Iran have drafted a comprehensive military and trade partnership.  The deal will make way for about $400 billion worth of Chinese investment into Iran’s key sectors i.e. energy and military developments, for the next 25 years.

This agreement would lead to closer military relations between Beijing and Tehran, including joint military exercises, weapons developments, and intelligence sharing. It would also increase Chinese investments in Iranian banking, telecommunications, and transportation. The reported agreement also includes that China would help in building infrastructure for the 5G telecommunication network in Iran. It is reported that the deal had been first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his 2016 visit to Tehran, and the proposed draft was approved by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif over the last couple of weeks. The Iranian officials have publically acknowledged that there is a ‘pending agreement with China’ which hopefully will be approved by their Parliament because of its high utility and bilateral enhancement of trade relations. Beijing is also still to disclose its terms; the Iranian government has meanwhile approved the draft of a 25-year deal with China on economic and political cooperation; the deal being of more importance for the whole region. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said it was a proud moment for the Iranian diplomatic history.

Tehran has not revealed yet, the full details of the agreement, but a previous report by the Petroleum Economists suggests that Iran is set to grant huge concessions to China, including significant discounts on oil and gas, and the ability to delay payments for up to two years. It has also allowed China to pay in soft currencies. China’s more pronounced interest in Iran should alert the US to review its past approach to Tehran. The deal comes at a time when the Iranian economy has been completely damaged by US sanctions, which reproached that any country in the world that deals with Iran would be cut off from the global financial system. Presumably, this stance will change soon, owing to the Iran-Chinese joint ventures.

The estrangement between China and America owing to COVID-19 had peaked, as Trump named this COVID-19 as ‘Chinese Virus’. There are also irritants in the south Chinese sea between China and America and highly objectionable actions imposed on Iran thereafter. Clashes between China and India due to their Ladakh dispute have disrupted peace in the region.  Nascent tensions have now engulfed Iran and India too, because of the Chabahar port and railway track to develop from Chabahar to Zahidan, as was agreed between them. The project was started by both India and Iran, to extend trade opportunities to Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Europe. But Modi’s recent enchantment with the US and his anti-Islamic Hindutva-based foreign policy isolating it has lost a project which was more beneficial for India. Iran will now complete its Chabahar project itself with the help coming from China. China has provided 400 billion dollars for this project, as the relations between China and Iran are fast-growing in the form of trade and financial policies, and India owing to its fallacious policies with every country of the region, has lost its metal. Both Iran and China have expelled India away. This happens to go in favor of Pakistan which is consistently pursuing a balanced foreign policy and is better placed due to its CPEC-BRI collaboration and the US’s need of Pakistan to help resolve its Afghanistan imbroglio.

In its efforts to destabilize Pakistan and divert its attention from Kashmir and the LOC, India has activated Pakistan’s western front, in order to engage it militarily. India had ostensibly invested in Chabahar Port and other projects in Iran to create an alternative trade corridor to Afghanistan and CARs, thus bypassing Pakistan. However, the cover of Chabahar Port was exploited to establish its spy and terrorism network against Pakistan.KulbhushanYadav, a serving Indian Navy Commander, was settled in Chabahar as the spymaster to organize terrorist activities in Baluchistan to target CPEC-BRI and Karachi to threaten Pakistan’s economy. He was picked up by Pakistani intelligence on one of his forays into Baluchistan. The Indians are also sponsoring dissident elements like BLS, BRA to carry out terrorist activities. Their operations are controlled from New Delhi and are RAW engineered and sponsored with voluminous money.

Prime Minister Khan’s regime has initiated the DiamerBhasa dam construction. India has come up with the tactical assumption to sabotage this move by Pakistan. A report disseminated on Indian media that the dam would induce the ecological catastrophe in the region and intensify the number of earthquakes by 300 in one month. On the contrary, Pakistan dismissed the inadequate report as it was based on fallacious features. Pakistan is constructing the dam with the help of China and India does not appreciate this. Beyond that, India also feels alone on the global stage as Iran expelled it in the Chabahar Port project which will now be construed by China. India had committed another folly and that was its intrusion in the Eastern Ladakh which brought embarrassment to India with heavy casualties and loss of its strategically important territory besides a bashing-humiliation in the eyes of the world. Trump has now realized that he had betted on the wrong horse.

PM Modi is on record having stated earlier that CPEC does not suit India. Obviously he meant by his last month’s military action taken, to obstruct the CPEC route via Gilgit-Baltistan.  Modi is known for his abrupt and unwise steps like his mentor Trump, because of which his army men in Ladakh got a bashing and a humiliation by having been beaten by a Chinese soldier’s military boots-on-strikes, the scene which went viral throughout the world. Modi had attacked eastern Ladakh, on the directions of his masters, to engage China in the mountains and then attack Gilgit-Baltistan to cut off the CPEC route; thinking much larger than his own mental size and capability. He had to change the plan soon after receiving an unforgettable thrashing of his soldiers on the Chinese border and sensing the great unity between China and Pakistan that he could face both China and Pakistan’s armies on its triangular borders; he has immediately receded o his auqat (real estimation) and preferred to continue shelling the civilian houses in the Azad Kashmir border villages; a timid approach.

According to the ‘Pakistan Economic Survey 2019-20’, the installed electricity generation capacity reached 37,402 MW in 2020, whereas the total demand of Pakistan is 25,000 MW. This huge surplus is due to CPEC’s 17 energy projects which have been installed in various cities in Pakistan and 13,000 MW energy added to in national grid stations. So the question is this: if Pakistan’s maximum energy demand is 25,000 MW and the installed capacity is 37,000 MW, so is there really an energy crisis, or is it just incompetency on the part of the government? Another part of the Economic Survey 2019-20 says that the transmission and distribution capacity is stalled at approximately 22,000 MW. Some simple math will help us understand this anomaly.

So, we have the capacity to meet our demand, but the problem lies in the part of the transmission. Every new government installs new power plants and increases the installed capacity, but no one government has focused on improving the transmission and distribution capacity. Pakistan’s energy problem can easily be solved if experts are given the authority and distribution capacity and if the government (any government) is serious enough in addressing and handling this issue faithfully. Rather than focusing on building more power plants, it is important to work on the transmission. Once Pakistan gets uninterrupted light, its economy will boost and attract more foreign investors.