The great game

Western World’s opposition to Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline is seen as a reiteration of its economic interests and geopolitical hegemonic designs in the region

By Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

In the face of threats of sanctions from the United States, President Asif Ali Zardari and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on March 11, 2013 launched the groundbreaking work on the 781-kilometre-long pipeline on the Pakistani side of the border. The Iran-Pakistan (IP) Gas Pipeline Project, initialed in 1995, has been facing perpetual opposition from the United States and its allies. Heads of both the countries, in their speeches at the occasion, reaffirmed their commitment to go ahead with the project “despite threats from the world powers”.

President Zardari said that the project would promote peace, security and progress in the region besides improving economic, political and security ties between the two neighbouring states. Stressing that the project was not against any country, President Zardari said such steps forging better understanding would also help fight terrorism and extremism.

President Ahmadinejad, while pointing towards foreign states and criticising what he called “their unjustified opposition to the project under the excuse of Iran’s nuclear issue”, said: “They are against Iran and Pakistan’s progress and have used the nuclear issue as an excuse”. He added, “We never expected [Western] companies to make an investment in this pipeline which guarantees progress, prosperity and peace in the region; if they don’t want to join this project for any given reason, they are not entitled to rock the boat and disturb the project”.

Pakistan on the completion of IP is to receive 21.5 million cubic meters of natural gas on daily basis. Faced with extraordinary energy crisis, Pakistan needs natural gas badly — its shortage has caused miseries to millions of Pakistanis and closure of industries. Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometres of the pipeline on its side. The Tehran-based Tadbir energy development group has undertaken all the engineering procurement and construction work for the first segment of the project. It will also carry out the second segment of the project and also extend the financing of $500 million to Pakistan. Iran and Pakistani are optimistic to complete the project by December 2014.

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Winds from Sindh – Sindhi Music Festival in Delhi, India.

The Sindhi [Secular] Sufi Music Festival this weekend focuses on an example of shared heritage of India and Pakistan

The Delhi Government has become known for promoting art and culture with a number of festivals throughout the year. To brighten up this weekend is the Sindhi Sufi Music Festival organised by the Department of Art, Culture and Languages. Here, singers from India and Pakistan come together to sing Sufi compositions.

Two leading singers from Pakistan — Sanam Marvi and Tufail Sanjrani — will join their Indian counterparts — Ghansham Vaswani, Kajal Chandiramani and Uma Lalla — to showcase the shared culture of Sindhis through the poetry of Sufis like Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. Kathak dancer Namrata Pamnani will also perform at the festival. March 16 and 17, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) from 5 p.m.

Courtesy: The Hindu
http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/winds-from-sindh/article4512921.ece

China to provide support in constructing a regional railway hub

By Imaduddin

PESHAWAR: China is to provide all kind of financial and technical support in the construction of a regional railway hub for Pakistan, said Director Pakistan Study Centre Sichuan University Chengdu China Dr Chen Jidong.

Speaking as a key note speaker at the one day seminar on prospects of Pak China Relations at University of Peshawar (UoP), Dr Chen Jidong said the active promotion of construction of the railway project will connect Pakistan with Xinjiang region in China and will enhance the capacity of transportation between two countries not only by land but also add to a new outbound transportation line for western China.

He said that the project is the greatest advantage of Pakistan, and will build trade and transport corridors by connecting South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and Western China owing to the country’s geographical advantages.

Dr Chen said that Pakistan has a railway network not younger than the year 1861, aging by the day and needs arduous upgrading.

Some external powers are creating serious law and order situation in Balochistan, with the evil design to halt the expected development of the area through Gwadar port operations, said the Chinese strategic analyst Prof. Zhon Rong.

He added the taking over of operations of Gwadar Port by a Chinese company in the recent past to go with the railway project, can transform Pakistan into economic giant of the 21st Century. Let me tell the Pakistani people that Gwadar Port is first for the development of Pakistan and then any other country, he added.

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