Energy woes: Taking up Iran’s offer
The gas pipeline is important as it would meet 20% of Pakistan's demand for gas and ease the ongoing energy crisis..
If the average person on the street was aware of the recent discussions between Iran and Pakistan, he would, more than anything, want them to succeed.
The long queues at CNG stations and daily power outages are reason enough for Pakistan to grab on to this offer for assistance from its neighbour. The Iranian foreign minister was in Pakistan for discussions on a wide range of issues pertaining to economic cooperation. These include the much-talked about Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, which if it were built, could help reduce Pakistan’s energy burden.
The deal for this pipeline was first signed in 1995 and was meant to cover a distance of some 2,775 kilometres from Iran’s South Pars gas field through Khuzdar in Balochistan, with one part branching southward to Karachi while another would go north into Multan.
India was also meant to be part of this project, but its reservations have stalled its commitment. This pipeline is important to Iran, possibly giving it economic influence in the region. But for Pakistan, where the ongoing energy crisis has all but crippled daily life, it is crucial.
No doubt, it won’t solve our problems, but it will help by meeting about 20 per cent of Pakistan’s current demand for gas. Officials have said that the gas supply that Pakistan receives as a result of the pipeline will be used solely for generating electricity and that this could help increase our generation capacity by up to 5,000 megawatts.
The good thing about the project is that Iran has already built its portion of the pipeline up to our border. It is now willing to extend support to Pakistan in completing its part of the network which is expected to cost around $1.65 billion.
If the project is given the go-ahead promptly — which the government should — we could see gas being supplied to the country by mid-2014. In addition to this, Iran can help Pakistan in the fields of transportation, communication, science, technology and health. All these issues should be taken up by the federal government – with the seriousness they deserve.