THE AMERICANS' AMBIVALENT dealings with India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed enemies that until 9/11 were largely shunned by Washington for one reason or another, are underpinned by efforts to get the two Asian rivals to bury the hatchet.
Both have become key allies in the war against terrorism and have thus benefited from US largesse. But much to the Bush administration's chagrin, the one who may break the logjam of more than half a century of religious enmity is none other than Iran, a member of President George W. Bush's "axis of evil", which, according to recent US allegations, has received help on its nuclear and missile programmes from Indian as well as Pakistani scientists and stands accused of stirring up trouble for the Americans in Iraq.
How is Tehran to achieve this breakthrough? A $3.5bn, 2,670km pipeline to carry natural gas from Iran to India--across Pakistan; and not just that, but across unruly tribal areas like Baluchistan, Pakistan's "wild east" where Islamabad's rule is, to say the least, remote.
The proposed pipeline would run from Asaluyeh on Iran's Gulf coast, the terminal for the rich offshore South Pars and Salman …