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However, it is now necessary to revisit the case and every sensible person will agree that two neighbours cannot remain at war forever, especially in view of energy economics or energy imperatives.

Before embarking on other details of the subject it is important to note that during the British rule over the Subcontinent the Middle East affairs were handled by the Viceroy of India. Indians have very deep relations with ‘tertiary’ states of the Middle East. The current disconnection is the outcome of events after the 2nd World War. One such historical episode depicts a very interesting picture. The following excerpt from the history is not generally known:

“The Nedous Hotel Lahore was founded in 1880 (now stands Avari Hotel) by Michael Adam Nedou, who came from the mediaeval port city of Ragusa (Dubrovnik). The Nedous built their first hotel in Lahore in 1880 and it was long known for being a gracious & beautiful building situated in one of the best areas of Lahore facing Mall Road, adjacent to Mela Ram’s Building (where now stands the WAPDA house).

Criticality of regional economic cooperation-I

Michael Adam Nedou’s son Harry was the businessman; Harry married to a Kashmiri girl (a milkmaid). Their daughter Akbar Jehan (later the wife of Sheikh Abdullah) was a boarder at the Convent of Jesus and Mary in the hill resort of Murree.

Noted writer Tariq Ali, in his book “Bitter Chill of Winter” about Akbar Jehan’s first marriage with Col T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) says: He went through a brief marriage in Lahore. In 1928, when a 17-year-old Akbar Jehan had left school and was back in Lahore, a senior figure in British Military intelligence checked in to the Nedous Hotel on the Upper Mall. Colonel T.E. Lawrence, complete with Valentino-style headgear, had just spent a gruelling few weeks in Afghanistan destabilising the radical, modernising and anti-British regime of King Amanullah.

Disguised as ‘Karam Shah’, a visiting Arab cleric, he had organised a black propaganda campaign designed to stoke the religious fervour of the more reactionary tribes and thus provoke a civil war. His mission accomplished, he left for Lahore. Akbar Jehan must have met him at her father’s hotel. A flirtation began and got out of control. Her father insisted that they get married immediately; which they did. Three months later, in January 1929, Amanullah was toppled and replaced by a pro-British ruler. On 12 January, Kipling’s old newspaper in Lahore, the imperialist Civil and Military Gazette, published comparative profiles of Lawrence and ‘Karam Shah’ to reinforce the impression that they were two different people. Several weeks later, the Calcutta newspaper Liberty reported that ‘Karam Shah’ was indeed the ‘British spy Lawrence’ and gave a detailed account of his activities in Waziristan on the Afghan frontier. Lawrence was becoming a liability and the authorities told him to return to Britain. ‘Karam Shah’ was never seen again. Nedous insisted on a divorce for his daughter and again Lawrence obliged. Four years later, Sheikh Abdullah and Akbar Jehan were married in Srinagar. The fact of her previous marriage and divorce was never a secret: only the real name of her first husband was hidden.”

The purpose of this reproduction of excerpts from a book is to exhibit the deep relationship between the Middle East and India. Furthermore, a close examination of the current events in Afghanistan would show that things there have always been the same being ‘religious fervour’, ‘civil war’ and ‘role of spies’. There is a need to learn from history.

The distance between Basra (Kuwait, Abadan, Khurrum Sheher) and Mumbai is only 2600km. This is considered as a short-length pipeline in the present world. There are already more than 10 pipelines of crude oil which have a length of over 3000km.

The history of different civilizations reveals that all the major events are ultimately based on economic considerations. Notwithstanding the development of renewable and clean energy, etc, the fossil fuel is going to be a major input for economic development for the people, especially the under-developing countries of the sub-continent. The Middle East has oil and the Indian subcontinent is the biggest upcoming buyer. There can be delays and hurdles; however, this ultimate marriage through a pipeline is inevitable.

The biggest factor which will contribute to this ‘economic equilibrium’ is reflected by the present state of affairs of import of Iranian oil by India despite US sanctions. The following two reproductions from the international press are enough to demonstrate the upcoming trend:

‘India is considering the reinstatement of crude oil shipments from Iran as Houthi insurgents step up attacks on maritime trade in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden regions off the coast of Yemen, sources in the know said. The issue may have been discussed during recent bilateral meetings between the countries last week when External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar travelled to Iran.”

“Shipments from Iran take place through the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, where the Houthis have a limited presence. On the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi are likely to discuss the revival of oil imports from Iran. After the U.S. ended waivers that allowed the import of crude from Iran without sanctions, India stopped buying oil from Iran in FY19. In the immediate years before the ban, Iran was India’s third biggest source of crude oil. In fact, between FY07 to FY09 Iran was the second-biggest source after Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, after Iran’s exit, India filled the void by importing oil from the U.S., the country which initiated the sanctions. However, in FY23, the U.S.’s share in India’s oil imports halved and Russia became the third-biggest source. Russia’s share in India’s crude oil imports was close to 14% in FY23. Notably, the last time Russia’s share was this high was in the late 1980s when it was still part of the Soviet Union. With international crude oil prices soaring, local consumption of petroleum products back to pre-pandemic levels and the U.S. calling for sanctions against Russia, Iran may make a comeback as a major oil partner for India.”

(To be continued)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


Comments are closed.

KU Apr 03, 2024 10:15am
Excellent article, wish someone could see beyond their noses. It's clear that economic/trade preferences are not our agenda, preservation of ideas have isolated our economy when others have developed.
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KU Apr 04, 2024 03:43pm
On another economic cooperation/trade, a report given to SC in 2020, listed serving 22K government officers (grade 17 to 22) with dual nationality/investment category, wonder how we should look at it.
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