Meeting our energy needs

Editorial July 02, 2010

The Americans need to make up their minds. Would they prefer a Pakistan that can stand on its own feet economically or would they like to perennially keep subsidising the country with their inefficient forms of financial assistance? As of right now, all actions of the US government, certainly its civilian arms, seem to be pointing towards the latter while their rhetoric has unwaveringly indicated their support for the former. Pakistan’s single biggest economic crisis as of this moment is the country’s inability to meet its own needs for energy in general and electricity in particular. While the current administration has been somewhat lethargic in its approach to address the crisis in the short term, they have taken two key measures to alleviate the long-term energy shortage in the country: initiating the gas pipeline with Iran and securing Chinese assistance in building the remaining two nuclear reactors at Chashma. Yet the US government seems hell-bent on ensuring that neither project goes through, the Iranian project because of Washington’s obsession with the sanctions on Tehran and the Chinese because it cannot countenance an expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, whether it be civilian or military.

America attempts to prevent the deal with China also smacks of hypocrisy. The US opposes the deal ostensibly because Pakistan is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that the sale violates the rules of the Nuclear Supplier Group, a global oligopoly on nuclear technology. Yet it was the same NSG that was arm-twisted by the US into granting India an exemption from the exact same rules that are now cited to prevent Pakistan from getting the deal. Besides, America’s largest recipient of military aid continues to be Israel, which has nuclear weapons and is not an NPT signatory either. There is no doubt that Pakistan has a bad track record on nuclear proliferation. But these reactors will be subject to inspections by the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog. And even the US military acknowledges that Pakistan’s nuclear assets are safe. So what is the problem? The ministry of finance estimates that the power crisis cost the economy two per cent of GDP growth last year. Do the Americans really have a preference for the former for Pakistan?

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2010.


Anoop | 11 years ago | Reply The editorial forgets to mention one crucial detail due to which Pakistan is denied the NSG exemption- Pakistan gave technologies to OTHER countries! It proliferated. India didnt. Thats the difference. Nothing else!
Usman Ali | 11 years ago | Reply It is a wonderful article. Americans never want to see a prospering Pakistan since such a country would inevitably become a more independent and aspiring nation. By keeping nations poor and dependent US can rule them more easily. Such client states provide for the strategic goals of US. Pakistan's chief problem is its inefficient economy, producing mass poverty and despair. As can be seen from the history of the world, the poverty and hunger will not go away without industrialization on a massive scale. But industrialization needs large amount of energy since the modern industries run on electricity and fuels rather than on human or animal muscle power. The root problem of Pakistan is its energy starvation and the only intermitten and unreliable availability of expensive power. Since Pakistan is also one the most corrupt states in the world any local project is run very inefficiently producing very expensive energy as can be seen in the case of rental power plants. The nuclear power plants built by China are of old technology and expensive too, as was outlined by a physics professor in a recent article on this site. The only option for Pakistan is to import energy from Iran. Regardless of this project hurting the feelings of Americans, Pakistan must go ahead importing electricity and gas from Iran on a massive scale in order to promote industrialization in the country. The long time ally of US that is the country of Turkey has been importing gas and electricity from Iran for over two decades now. Pakistan should do the same and remind the case of Turkey to US. Pakistan has no other option if it wants to tackle the energy problem once and for all. Iran is the cheapest option for Pakistan. But one more thing is that Pakistan should make Baluchistan more secure and the enemies of Pakistan will try to destabilize that area in order to cut of Pakistan from a cheap source of energy and therefore killing Pakistan's economy and weakening Pakistan. Government should be aware of such conspiracies and these should be dealt with in their infancy.
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