Pakistan´s need is urgent and pressing, which only its joint pipeline venture with Iran can meet. And the Islamabad establishment must tell the people how it wants to complete it, so that when American axe falls they help it to throw it back disdainfully.
Pakistan has issued tender for laying kilometers Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline in its territory to a German company while rejecting US Pressure over Iran-Pakistan Gas line Project. According to the secretary petroleum, Pakistan has offered $250 million to a German company, ILF Engineering, for laying the gas pipeline inside its territory. The 2,775-kilometre (1,724 mi) pipeline which started from Asalouyeh while passing though Balochistan and Sind would end up in Multan area by 2014. Major length of 1,172 kilometers (728 mi) passes through Iran. Tehran has already completed a 900-km portion of 56-inch diameter pipeline from Assaluyeh to Iran Shehr. However remaining 200 km up to the Pakistan border is under design, and is expected to be completed in next two years’ time. According to the governments of Pakistan, sources the project implementation and construction is targeted in four years and the first gas flow will be available by the end of December 2014. The 750 mmcfd gas volume will help in generation of around 4,000 MW electricity couple with more job opportunities in backward areas of Balochistan and Sindh.
Notably, Pakistan is to lay 781 km pipeline in its territory and the project would be completed by December 2014. The initial capacity of the pipeline will be 22 billion cubic meters of natural gas per annum, which is expected to later rise to 55 billion cubic meters. The pipeline aims to export 21.5 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan every day or 8.7 billion cubic meters per year. It is mentionable that initially the project was pursued through a trilateral approach by Pakistan, Iran and India till in 2009 when India took a back seat when USA offered her an alternative source of energy by access to civil nuclear technology in lieu of the pipeline. Since 2009, the project has been pursued bilaterally between Pakistan and Iran and as of March 2012, it has made important headway and the pipeline to Pakistan is now scheduled to be completed by December 2014. Gas demand in Pakistan has meanwhile increased to a level that even full capacity of the pipeline would barely meet it in 2015.
To malice Iran, the United States asked Pakistan in January 2010, to abandon the project. In return it offered assistance for a liquefied natural gas terminal and promised to aid the import of electricity from Tajkistan through Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. But Pakistan rejected the US pressure and finalized the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline deal in June 2010. And in July 2011, Iran announced that it had completed construction of its section. Because now it is Pakistan’s turn to move ahead, the United States has once again become active and has put the spanner in the works with its old formula. U.S. has started playing her dirty tricks against Iran and Pakistan since inception of IP Gas Pipeline project. US, Israel and India covertly floated the idea of “Greater Balochistan”, threatened attacking of Iran, imposing sanctions on Pakistan and Iran. CIA, RAW, Mossad and MI-6 jointly launched militancy in Balochistan and started assisting and funding anti stateBaloch lords. In this connection, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter last year visited Balochistan and his November statement to year, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, in a statement to Press TV, repeated the old refrain, saying, “Pak-Iran gas pipeline is not a good idea….However, the plan to get gas from Turkmenistan is a better idea.”
Again, on February 8, 2012, The United States (US) Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs while discussing situation of Balochistan opposed its emancipation but shown concern over security problem and killing of the people. In this meeting, a Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, has expressed concern over Balochistan saying that it is an insurgency hit area? He said that this province has vital strategic importance.
Later on U.S. Foreign sectary Mr. Hilary Clinton also showed her concern over Balochistan Issue and IP Gas Pipeline Project. She also threatened Pakistan while stating that Pakistan should be ready to face sanctions in case of final materialization of the project. In response while addressing to media, foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit responded on February 8, 2012 and said Pakistan had conveyed its reservations to the US in Islamabad and Washington regarding the talks on Balochistan by the US Congress. In a question he also very rightly sent a clear message to Washington that “Pak-Iran gas pipeline project was not abandoned and it would be completed till 2014.”
However, President, Prime Minister, all provincial parliaments and national leaders unanimously rejected U.S. pressure and in a clear tone mentioned that Islamabad will not accept any dictation regarding its internal affairs from any foreign country, adding that exporting gas from Iran is in the country’s best interest. In this regard Prime Minister Yusuf RazaGilani has said that Pakistan will take decision on Pak-Iran gas pipeline keeping in view its own interests and would not succumb to any pressure in this regard. Speaking at a ceremony after inauguration of the Air University campus here on Saturday, Gilani said Pakistan would build ties with other countries including Iran keeping in view its own interests. He said that the country would not budge to foreign pressure as it had an elected government.
Anyhow above mentioned debate very clear indicate that Pakis ready to face all consequences for the completion of Gas pipeline project Iran also realized the pressure over Islamabad and offered assistance of resources and many to bounce back American move over the project. In this connection Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr. AsimHussain has said that Iran has agreed to export 80,000 barrels of crude oil annually to Pakistan and has also agreed to provide $250 million for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. Unfortunately, Pakistan and Iran has wasted lot of time to built and complete the project because of American interference and non-serious Indian attitude towards the Gas Pipeline project. Opposing of said project by the Americans is not justify since Pakistan is an independent sovereign country that has to look after her regional interest and why she should give preference to US over its own interests.
Simply, I would like to say that if American’s leadership is unable to scarify her interest with India over Kashmir issue then why US should be accepting from Pakistan to forego her interests because of Americans. Here I would also say that UN is only looking after major power interests and directly and indirectly imposed sanctions over Iran because of that nuclear programme which has not yet produced any nuclear arsenal. US and some of her western allies have also tried to line up the Arab States in the Gulf as well as Saudi Arabia against Iran. Recently, speaking before a critical White House showdown with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, Mr. Obama tried to buy more time for “crippling sanctions” against Tehran to take effect before Israel decides to strike its nuclear facilities. He also stated that “Iran’s leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment but so have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon”. He also stressed that a nuclear-armed Iran also threatened American and Israeli security. Therefore America will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.
In short, opposition to the Pak-Iran Gas pipeline is just another attempt to “strangulate” Pak-Iran’s economies and blackmailing Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran while carrying out militancy in Balochistan. Nevertheless, Pakistan and Iran should stand fast for their national interests. Both Pakistan and Iran should also try to attract China for becoming part of under progress project that can directly play an important role in resolving their energy and economic crisis. At the same time, American’s top brass should know that already depreciating Pak-US relationship would further deteriorate in case of continuity of US dirty tricks against Pak and Iran. At the end I appreciate the government that they have rejected US threats to stop Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
By Lt Col Zaheerul Hassan (R)
Sources: Pakistan Observer is a Newspaper Daily from Islamabad, Pakistan