Much-needed project

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The long-awaited Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline has once again piqued the interest of geoeconomic analysts and end-users alike as Pakistan’s policymakers have decided – for now – to put their foot down and move forward with the project. Originally envisioned to span 785km in total, the new government has now decided to set the focus on smaller, manageable segments in a bid to avoid US reservations while successfully evading the fear of penalties from the southwestern border. Despite a ruckus raised by Washington, Islamabad claims to be on the right side as it believes in the importance of the pipeline for the country’s energy security and economic development. A recent statement by the cabinet emphasized that Pakistan had the sovereign right to choose its energy sources and that the US objections held no basis in international law. The gas pipeline has been in the works for over a decade, to provide much-needed natural gas to Pakistan so much so that for the longest period, it was said to be continued all the way to India, which would considerably help our coffers with transportation and transit income. If sustained, the revival could not have come at a better time for Pakistan, as it grapples with constant power shortages and high energy costs. By tapping into Iran’s vast natural gas reserves, we can secure a stable and affordable source of energy for its growing population and industries. Our past policies regarding energy security and foreign relations have often been self-destructive, leading to missed opportunities and economic setbacks. The reluctance to pursue projects due to external pressures has left Pakistan vulnerable to a myriad of challenges.
While other countries in the region have successfully secured energy deals with Iran, Pakistan lagged, shifting its weight from one foot to another, missing out on the economic benefits and energy security that such projects can bring. Our legislators would have to break free from the constraints of past policies and embrace projects that can pave the way for a brighter and more prosperous future. No qualms about that. May it be building linkages in the immediate neighbourhood or convincing China to spotlight its mega-investment corridor, only mutually beneficial partnerships carry the potential to set a course for sustainable growth. It’s so unfortunate to see our governments abort projects that are in Pakistan’s national interest on specious grounds. Hopefully, this time around, this resolve to put national priorities first would no longer be restricted to celebrated photo sessions or sensational press releases an actual on-the-ground progress would soon be in sight.