Pak-Iran pipeline pact precipitates shift in foreign policy

LAHORE: Pak-Iran Pipeline agreement marks a step in the greater shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy of which voting for Syria in the UNO and China-Gawadar agreement are the main points.

There is no apparent problem with the economics of the IP Gas Pipeline Project (IPGPP) however its political dimension still has many questions unanswered. The Baloch nationalists need to be taken onboard otherwise this project will not last for long. This project stands a better chance of sustainability if it is completed before the USA leaves Afghanistan.

These views were expressed by guests at the Jang Forum held on the topic ‘Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline’. The guests at the forum were MNA PML-N Malik Riaz, Executive Member Chamber of Commerce and Industry Aftab Vohra, Leader PPP Chaudhry Manzur and Former Chief Economist Pakistan Dr Pervez Tahir. The forum was moderated by Moayyed Jafri.

Former Chief Economist Pakistan Dr Pervez Tahir said the project will not completely abolish the shortfall of gas but it surely will help handle the crisis situation. He said it will also provide a much needed cushion for exploration of more reservoirs in the country. He mentioned that not all of the reserved of a country’s energy resources are tapped in routine, as some are held back as strategic backup.

The alternate to natural gas which is the shale gas has high environmental hazard and is also water intensive which does not suit Pakistan. He said the IPGPP is even more economically viable than the TAPI project and has no economic glitches; however, the same cannot be said regarding its political dimension. Pakistan has risked its ties with US by going ahead with this project but that concept too is quoted out of context and blown out of proportion, he opined.

The US too is now softening its tone with Iran which hints at a change in its approach. He said there can be a possibility that the Shia Genocide in Hazara and now Karachi might be a part of the greater game to deter Iran from going ahead with this deal. He pointed out that the project cannot materialise unless the Baloch Nationalist Leadership is taken onboard.

He said Pakistan has always ignored its regional political ties and has banked on far-off allies, which needs to change. MNA PML-N Malik Riaz said the project is nothing more than an election gimmick where the PPP government has just signed a document and put the brunt of work and its implementation on the coming government. He was of the view that the people of Pakistan are smarter than PPP understands and they will never put this feather into PPP’s hat.

He also was skeptical that the infamous PPP could also have gone ahead with this agreement for massive kickbacks. Leader of PPP Chaudhry Manzur said the IPGPP is a major link of the bigger picture which is a gutsy shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy. He pointed out the Gawadar Agreement with China and voting against US intervention in Syria in the United Nations are as other major indicators of this phenomenon. Terming it the most major shift in policy since Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Shaheed’s, he said that even a strong country like India yielded to the US pressure and backed out of IPGPP which was formerly Iran-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project. He said that alleging that the PPP has dumped it on the coming government is not wise, as PPP too is government in waiting. He said the project will be completed in 4-5 years.

Executive Member Chamber of Commerce and Industry Aftab Vohra said the fertilizer industry will benefit from this project. He proposed that the industrial units of fertilizer manufacturers should be put up near the border where this pipeline would start, as it would help reduce disruptions due to security issues and line losses.

By The News International


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