Pakistan-Iran gas project
ACCORDING to news reports, President Asif Ali Zardari and his Iranian counterpart have decided to ‘vigorously pursue’ the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. After 14 years of delay both governments signed the agreement in 2009 after which the work was to start on the designing of the pipeline.
What began to be known internationally as the IPI pipeline is now only IP as India, despite its severe energy shortage, has backed out of the process. Surely, India doesn’t want to become vulnerable by allowing its pipes to go through Pakistan before reaching its own borders.
After years of controlling Pakistan’s waters being the upper riparian, India doesn’t want any role reversal that may challenge her regional hegemony.
So, it is just Iran and Pakistan after four years where the Iranian side has completed its pipeline, while Pakistan has still not advanced anywhere beyond the plans on pages.
However, the Iranians, while realising the Pakistani energy crisis, are ready to assist in alleviating the problem with long-term solutions that includes the speedy gas pipeline too. But how ‘vigorously’ Pakistan pursue this crucial issue remains to be seen.
PRESIDENT Zardari has visited Iran and finally signed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. If successfully completed, the project ,can go a long way in solving our energy problem, especially the shortage of gas.
The only difficulty is that the US is deadly against the project and has threatened to impose sanctions against Pakistan if we go ahead with it. That said, what is surprising is that President Zardari, with his party, who has been dragging his feet on the project since 2009 when the agreement was signed with Iran, has suddenly become very active about the project just 15 to 20 days before the end of his five-year term.
They have taken a tough stand and are not bothered about American opposition and threats of sanctions.
Why this abrupt change of stance? It seems that Zardari and his PPP are not very sure of returning to power after the elections as they are leaving masses with Rs960 billion expenditure’s burden for payment of interest on foreign and domestic debt. They are also leaving the financially risky and tricky issue of American sanctions for the next government to deal with.