ISLAMABAD: As Islamabad and Tehran set up a joint contracting company to complete the construction of the $7.5 billion IP gas pipeline project within the next 15 months, Pakistan does not appear apologetic and says that any other government would have done what the PPP-led government did.
“Pakistan continues to suffer from huge energy deficiency and this directly affects our industry and GDP growth. Gas is the cheapest commodity to generate electricity. We need to look at all possible sources of energy including the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) gas pipeline. The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline will meet only half the shortfall of energy needs of Pakistan and not our full demand. Pakistan has to do what it deems fit and what is in its national interest. Lack of economic growth has also seen peace stalled in the region,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told ‘The News’.
President Asif Ali Zardari is also credited widely for improving bilateral relations with Iran, investing in the region, and desperately seeking energy from a country facing severe sanctions from the West because of its nuclear policy under the guidelines of the IAEA.
Publicly at least, Washington has been dead against Pakistan going ahead with the IP gas line.Khar said, “All our friends understand the huge energy crisis that we face today. Pakistan is a responsible country and is mindful of its international obligations. Also all our friends realise that Pakistan is looking for alternative energy sources and to them we simply say, “Please help us!”’
Zardari received an unprecedented welcome in Iran with both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei meeting with him separately saying that in the region only Iran has safe energy resources and the pipeline would serve both the interest of Pakistan and Iran.
Immediately after on Thursday, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz Al Ghadeer, met with Minister Khar at the Foreign Office but the statement from her office did not mention Zardari’s successful visit or the IP project was topic of conversation.
In the past too, Saudi Arabia has cautioned Pakistan in going ahead with the IP project without hiding its displeasure.