CENTRAL ASIA-SOUTH ASIA ENERGY COOPERATION: QUEST FOR ENERGY SECURITY AS A DEPENDENCY VARIABLE
Sreemati Ganguli, Fellow, Institute of Foreign Policy Studies, University of Calcutta (Calcutta, India)
This article focuses on India’s energy security demands, as well as the energy security scenario of its immediate neighbors, mainly Pakistan and Afghanistan, and of its strategic neighborhood, i.e. the Central Asian countries. It attempts to concentrate on the factor of energy interdependence among these countries and argues that the possibility of an interregional energy cooperation mechanism is essential for energy security, and ultimately, stability in the wider region. A concept of interregional cooperation based on interdependence is vital for security in the broad sense of the term. These two neighboring regions do enjoy energy interdependence. The wider region has all three ingredients of the energy supply chain—the Central Asian countries as producers, Afghanistan and Pakistan as both transit and market states, and India as the market to make this cooperation feasible. But there has scarcely been any serious effort to put this energy chain into a meaningful dependency variable. For both regions, the other always seems too distant, either as a source or as a market. The continuing insecurity in Afghanistan and bilateral distrust between India and Pakistan are two of the major factors that always put energy relations between Central and South Asia on the backburner. But future prospects may not be so bleak, since the changing security scenario in Afghanistan calls for greater regional economic cooperation, which will be beneficial for Afghan economic reconstruction. More important, it will make the regional states shareholders not only in the Afghan reconstruction process, but also in ensuring greater interregional cooperative mechanisms as well. It is widely believed that energy as a product is a factor of geopolitical and geo-economic conflicts the world over, and there is also plenty of supporting evidence. This article, on the other hand, focuses on the potential of using energy as a vector of alliance in the regional and interregional context.
Keywords: energy security, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, interregional cooperation.