Iran, China Ying Yang: ‘Interesting Times’

Can’t beat this one –with or without social distancing, vaccines. And Pakistan could re-spread the red carpet as it did for Nixon in the 70s –an added plus for all.

IRSHAD SALIM — Region’s two nations (China and Iran) are abutting to build a geostrategic-cum-geoeconomic bridge connecting one another –over a troubled land (Afghanistan). I call the deal (if true and goes through) a “gift with purchase” (GWP) or a purchase with purchase (PWP) during Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving.

In corporate board rooms and small businesses, GWP and PWP push sales –I was told by a friend as he looked at my “one-eyed-onyx turtle dubbed “Pablo” and remarked about my creation, “it could be a winner. Can u get 1 to 3 million pieces of these before Christmas?”. For professionals like Ansari, numbers and GWPs and PWPs don’t matter, they are bagels for breakfast meetings. He at that time was with P&G.

I took a deep breathe, however, and closeted the idea. Pakistan to USA supply chain and logistics were a walnut to crack. So I gave up the “unconventional” idea.

My daughter had smiled and rested her head on my left shoulder –as my son played Ninja Turtle. It was in the 90s and I was in New Jersey. Good old days. I’m in Islamabad now and happy. I get to hear though, “Interesting times ahead”…”We’re moving toward pre-WWII arrangement”.

So I’m kinda thinking of the development in terms of GWP, PWP, Pablo the turtle, supply chain and logistics, etc. Back to school my friend. He’s the one who had whispered about the internet and told me it’s not being just “America On Line” (AOL). “DesPardes” was registered the same day, as he sat with me in my cold basement. It was January 2000.

Also, I heard then that you have to pay your dues also. I wanted to go into contracting. Still, one just can’t be a dreamer, a hard/smart worker without being a son-of-a-gun — a former employer once told me. I lacked the third quality, “so I can’t make money,” he said.

That’s corporate world –a closed environment. The region –an open environment, may be another “life is like a box of chocolate” as Forrest Gump says.

I won’t invoke Grandma this time. I am reminded that some readers want something “different” –that “I’ve been talking of “highway while there’s GT Road” –a connotation I believe meant to differentiate two good approaches. Good. Be real, original (Grandma used to say!).

The region is a good fit for this also. Both China and Iran have paid their dues and have been paying and paying — they continue to struggle with being a “dreamer, hard/smart worker, and son-of-a-gun”.

This is true for Pakistan and Afghanistan also. All four countries together form an Atlantic of opportunists and challenges amid as the region appears to move closer toward conflict. That’s my opinion and Tango’s too.

Just as the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) is developing into a trade autobahn, another one is on the horizon: a Iran, China 25-yr strategic deal worth a whopping $400 billion –for some a huge Turkey to pardon, bake and eat on Thanksgiving.

“If it happens, this would be a real blow to Indian ambitions of trying to keep a say and route to Afghanistan – independent of Pakistan,” says Rashid Hussain Syed, an energy analyst based in Toronto.

Having been in the region for over three decades and writing on energy and related matters, Syed’s take on the matter is significant.

“The Chinese carrot is big enough for Iran to sideline India. And for China, this is an answer to India for siding with the US. Will have great geopolitical consequences for the region and indirectly Pakistan would be a beneficiary. Yet, before passing a judgement, one needs to wait for the final blueprint of the agreement to be out in black and white. It’s still not out.”

According to him, since the region is integrated, “they can grow and prosper only when they stand together. Pakistan took the US route in the mid 60s and see the results, points out Syed.

He says Modi is taking India on the same route. “And mind my words, result won’t be any different”.

When asked about the two auobahns emerging in the region from two different yet close sea ports, and the landing in China, he says, “both Gwadar and Chabahar would be beneficial to the region. If the countries stand together, the Iran – Pakistan gas pipeline (IPI) could be extended to China and even India. Same could happen to TAPI. Even China could be added to it. We can’t obliterate each other. We all will have to live together. Bajpai said it, geography could not be changed. Modi needs to get the message. South Asia could be much better when together. We all need to change our prisms.”

It appears India could lose a GWP or a PWP. It’s a situation, “interesting times,” as a senior Pakistani military official has been saying for weeks and months now. Not a whole lot, but the “situation” and the “interesting times” add up to an optic like this pic:

“Three things hold nations together: 1) common goals 2) common enemy & 3) common culture and tradition. India has lost it all. It has nothing of it’s own except fake ideology,” according to Nusrat Jamshed, a former bureaucrat with commerce and trade background.

“Supply chain in trade is as important as the product being good. Trade too flourishes if free of prejudice. Caste system will eventually bring down trade as well as political stability in India,” he adds.

“Like Halal products, it is very important to understand the supply chain by establishing the principles of reverse engineering. Today it plays an important part in price war.”

Tariq Chaudhry, a professional, says about the new autobahn on the drawing board: “it’s a good offshoot in the middle of nowhere and I am sure Pakistan would be the prime choice for the Rail project by virtue of its experience in the Rail infrastructure projects. Indian ouster was quite natural and normal from regional hegemony standpoint. That particular rail project would the the lifeline of middle-eastern rail project. Further, the supply chain management benefits to Pakistan are unimaginable only if we harness the marine security system with China and so on…., we need to develop the 4th/5th party logistics arrangements similar or next level to Jeddah port.”

That could be a home run and a bypass for the “coronavirus” rat.

Imagine for the next 25 years, China getting oil. gas, LPG, etc. and Iran getting out of the foxhole and both dealing in “yuan” and going digital with 5G and IoT.

Can’t beat this one –with or without social distancing, vaccines. And Pakistan could re-spread the red carpet as it did for Nixon in the 70s –an added plus for all.

We all need “Home Improvement“, and definitely not Macuahuiti –GWPs and PWPs notwithstanding:

PS: Stay in touch on WhatsApp please: Grandma, Harvey the Rabbit, Tango, Tim (Taylor family), et al.

The writer is Islamabad based, and Editor/Publisher of and