Americans and Saudis: hands off Pakistan’s pipeline please!

Published: April 22, 2012
The writer teaches physics and political science at LUMS. He holds a doctorate in physics from MIT

The writer teaches physics and political science at LUMS. He holds a doctorate in physics from MIT

Now and then, as though out of sheer boredom, the United States shoots itself in the foot and loses the occasional goodwill it creates with aid programmes. Consider the latest: Secretary Hilary Clinton says that “As we are ratcheting up pressure on Iran, it seems somewhat inexplicable that Pakistan would be trying to negotiate a pipeline with it”. Appearing before Congress, she threatened that sanctions could be imposed by the US on Pakistan’s precarious economy, and these would be “particularly damaging” and “further undermine their economic status”.

One wonders why Mrs Clinton finds Pakistan’s attempt to tap into its gas-rich neighbour “inexplicable”. In fact, there is no mystery. Half of Pakistan’s energy needs are met from gas, but only 30 per cent of gas is domestically produced. Natural gas runs the country’s electricity generating plants, powers its factories, and is used as fuel for cars, buses and trucks.

Without additional energy supplies, social chaos and disruption lies in the months and years ahead. Electricity shortfalls sometimes reach as high as 6,000MW, meaning that 40 per cent of the demand is unmet. Daily blackouts have gutted industrial production, closed markets, and CNG is rationed in spite of a huge price hike. Power riots broke out two weeks ago in Lahore. In October, protesters against power outages held up a train in Gujranwala, ordered passengers onto the platform, and set three coaches on fire.

Iran’s gas could be critical for avoiding mass rioting and social breakdown. Should it actually come through, the proposed 56 inch diameter, 2,100-kilometres long IP pipeline would deliver a whopping 750 million cubic feet of gas per day from Iran’s South Pars gas field, located near Iran’s southern city of Asalouyeh. This could become Pakistan’s jugular vein or, more accurately, its windpipe.

Expectedly, Secretary Clinton’s threats have drawn a strong reaction from Pakistani officials and leaders, with each trying to stand taller than the other. All this comes at a time when Pakistan-US relations are at a dangerous low. Quite apart from everything else, threatening Pakistan is poor diplomacy because it is reacting to something that, at the moment, is no more than a possibility.

Although the pipeline project’s formal completion date is December 2014, a detailed feasibility plan is still being worked out and the source of funding is unclear. In July 2011, President Ahmadinejad has offered to fund construction of the 761 kilometres inside Pakistani territory. Iran declared at the time that it had laid the pipeline on its side to within 50 kilometres of Pakistan’s border. But the Iranian offer has to be taken with a good pinch of salt because Iran’s economic difficulties are rapidly mounting. China’s largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has backed out from its earlier commitment. Currently the Pakistan government is negotiating with Gazprom, the Russian gas and oil giant. Nothing is clear.

The threats to Pakistan clearly violate the principle of fairness. Let’s say that Iran is indeed a “bad guy”, and that it is wrong to trade with bad guys. But, by this logic is it okay for the US to conduct $500 billion dollars of trade with China annually, a country that it alleges — perhaps correctly — of violating human rights? What about the planned $80 billion US arm sales to Saudi Arabia, a country that officially does not accept the right to religious freedom and treats its women abysmally? The IP gas pipeline, on the other hand, involves a piddling $1.5 billion and brings obvious advantages to Pakistan.

US antagonism to the IP pipeline comes, of course, because of Iran’s nuclear programme. This is why India, China and Turkey are also being hectored into reducing their imports of Iranian crude oil. In 2008, US pressure forced India to pull out of the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, also known as the “Peace Pipeline”.

Suppose, for argument’s sake, Iran’s secret agenda is indeed that which the US alleges — i.e. to make nuclear weapons. If true, I find it personally regrettable. The world needs less, not more, nuclear weapons. It is in Iran’s long-term interest to shelve such ambitions and get on with improving the lives of ordinary Iranians. Yet, in all fairness, there are nine other nuclear states in the world with America’s perennial ally, Israel, being among them.

But let us not blame the Americans alone. Another nation has now stepped in to discourage the construction of the IP pipeline. The kings and princes of Saudi Arabia — who had earlier urged the US to destroy Iran’s nuclear programme by launching military strikes and “cut off the head of the snake” — are making their presence felt here in Islamabad.

Two weeks ago, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s deputy foreign minister, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, sought to persuade Pakistan to abandon the IP pipeline and cancel electricity/oil import deals with Iran. Although details have not appeared in the press, Abdul Aziz apparently offered some kind of a financial bailout as the quid pro quo.

But Pakistan needs energy security, not more loans. The Saudi attempt to create divisions and distrust with a neighboring country is plainly insidious and deserved a riposte from Pakistan’s leaders — one no less stout than the one delivered to the Americans. The Saudi plan is just as unworkable as the TAPI pipeline, which the US is pushing as an alternative to the IP pipeline. TAPI would run through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. But with Afghanistan likely to be embroiled indefinitely in civil war after 2014, only a wild optimist can believe that a pipeline traversing its hostile and intractable terrain could provide secure oil supplies.

It is time for the US to get real and know that countries will pursue their goals rather than those preferred by Washington. John Foster Dulles is dead, as is Ronald Reagan — strong-arm tactics have seen their day. Instead American diplomacy needs to show sensitivity, and factor in the needs of the countries it deals with. Else the U.S shall isolate itself away from a goal that is truly important, the fight against global terrorism.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (84)

  • adeel759
    Apr 22, 2012 - 10:56PM

    Brilliance at its best, like always. For a short term upper hand against Iran, US and Saudis should not deprive Pakistan of this Long Term Strategic Asset. Pakistani establishment should take Energy Security as Strategic Asset and work to further it, rather than useless N Bombs.


  • G. Din
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:30PM

    “It is time for the US to get real and know that countries will pursue their goals rather than those preferred by Washington.”
    And, sir, how does that lofty principle deprive Washington of the right of pursuing its goals, as wrong-headed as you may think them to be? You may rest assured that US is always all too real when it has defined its national interests and pursues them to their logical ends. The question to ask, sir, is how come Pakistan thinks it is right to thumb its nose at Washington when it is presented a list of quid pro quo‘s for the very real favours done to it. Is that fair of Pakistan, to renege on obligations very opportunistically agreed to by it?
    “Else the U.S shall isolate itself away from a goal that is truly important, the fight against global terrorism.”
    Has Pakistan cooperated in that effort? If US has to come inside Pakistan to take out all the barracudas that Pakistan nurtures in its terrorist farms, US perhaps is only too glad that it has been “isolated”. It does have the merit of engaging in unimpeded self-help, doesn’t it?


  • Ali Nawaz
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:34PM

    With due respect Mr. Pervez Hoodhbhoy, you are absolutely wrong. Writing this long article and blaming US and its tactics is downright childish.

    Pakistan as a sovereign nation should make up her own mind and should stand tall to protect her national interests.

    USA a sole super power and as such will continue to dominate and pursue her own agenda and dictate its will on weaker nations at will, and why not.

    Make Pakistan to stand tall and don’t crumble with any pressure tactics of anyone especially the USA!!


  • Malang
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:38PM

    Very rightly said. Our need is to have an energy source, and IP gas pipeline is one of the most feasible alternative. We must not allow Saudi and Americans to dictate their terms in our national interest. We must devise our strategy according to our needs, not according to our so called Saudia and American friends.


  • ashok
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:41PM

    Pakistan’s energy security lies in developing and extracting 175 billion tons of Thar coal reserves in Sindh. Pakistan easily can convert the coal into fuel gas or generate electricity to meet the growing demands for the next 500 years. All Pakistan needs is to tap Indian expertise in the field of lignite coal and finances by offering to share the product with India. This will be a win-win situation for Pakistan and India which will increase inter-dependency and mutual trust

    My hunch feeling is that Pakistan establishment would collect the money offered by Saudi Arabia but will continue to work of Iran-Pakistan pipeline construction, though slowly and by keeping a low profile.

    Pakistan is almost bankrupt; there is no money except for military in Pakistan. Pakistan needs billions of dollars and willing partner to share technology to install power stations and factories to avoid impending chaos and disruption.


  • Hedgefunder
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:48PM

    There is no free Lunch ! Pakistan has depended on US Aid for over past 50 years, hence the US stand on sanctions ! where is the problem?
    Don’t like it, then learn to live without their Aid ! Chapter Closed !
    But one simply can not have it both ways. Ti this country time people of this countrne understand, that they do not have a divine right to be handed out funds, aid etc, without any input from the donar nations, as to their own interest !


  • BlackJack
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:49PM

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t – not a pretty position to be in. I totally agree that the Iran-Pakistan pipeline makes eminent sense in ensuring the energy security of Pakistan, and avoiding mounting chaos and further economic decline. However, it is also equally important to avoid making politically imprudent statements at a time when even stronger economies like China and India are making token gestures to support the US-led economic stranglehold. I would advocate quietly proceed with the construction of the pipeline without any further statements on its future. If tensions on Iran’s nuclear programme dissipate, there need be no further delays in making the pipeline operational; on the other hand, if the already precipitous relationship between Pak and the US goes into free-fall, the pipeline could be the difference between survival and ruin.


  • Sonya
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:49PM

    As a loyal friend, Saudi Arabia has helped USA every time they are in trouble, I am not referring to heavy arms shopping etc in the economic meltdown time but especially in Pakistan, which is an easy target for Saudies to interfere. Be it Ramond Davis’ final round or Pakistan’s internal politics, the Saudi interference into Pakistan is getting dirtier – and the problem is that it is believed to be a brethren country in Pakistan.


  • Lala Gee
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:51PM

    A good article advocating only Pakistan’s interests, though put in a too simplistic manner without providing much substance.


  • TightChuddi
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:55PM

    Pakistanis! hands of Saudi and American funds and weapons please then…


  • Ali Tanoli
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:04AM

    France, England, Germany, China, India, even Turkey can buy Oil from Iraq during sanction on
    them but not pakistan and the same thing gonna happend now against the Iran what a shame
    shame on this Badmash world.


  • sabk
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:05AM



  • Ammad
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:10AM

    Your arguments are right, whatever is in favour of US, US does it even if the other country does it illegally. Also remember that US is giving civil nuclear technology to India which has not signed nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It is just that what US wants to do. If it would be in favour of US, US will do it even if it would be morally wrong. Stopping Pakistan from pipeline project is the same.


  • Ali Tanoli
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:29AM

    pakistan was broke when its got freedom from brit raj in 1947 but it survived and i guess it can live with out saudyahud help.


  • Parvez
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:47AM

    Excellent reasoning.
    The fact remains that our leaders have always been beggars and that is why we are in no position to chose.


  • S.H
    Apr 23, 2012 - 1:05AM

    I don’t understand why people call Hoodbhoy an American agent????
    Where is he advocating US in this article?
    I think he is blamed because he tells the truth and people are not willing to hear the truth.


  • wali baba
    Apr 23, 2012 - 1:26AM

    i think its the time to cash. Media and govt can force Americans either to give an alternate or to stop poking in the internal decisions. On one side uncle sam is writing secret letters to Iran and on other side stopping others to fulfill a deal already signed


  • Cautious
    Apr 23, 2012 - 1:36AM

    Both the USA and Saudi Arabia have decided that Iran is the enemy — so it’s up to you – I might add that you have run out of “favors” with both the USA and the Saudi’s.


  • Tch tch
    Apr 23, 2012 - 2:01AM

    IPI is a disaster. We havent laid a km of pipeline yet. Now any work on it will lead to automatic severe sanctions. We missed our chance. Besides the Iranis are selling the Gas at a laughably high rate. And surprise surprise they import Gas from Turkemanistan at a pittance.

    TAPI is workable. If you get the Afghan government on board and pay off the Taliban it can work. (NATO indirectly pays the Taliban to get their supplies)The South Yotalan field is the biggest in the world. The Turkemen give an excellent rate on their gas.
    The Indians really need the Gas , more so then us.TAPI is a win win. We should take the Qatari LPG and free Saudi Oil, and dump the Iranis. Once Obama gets the second term they may get invaded, the Israelis will wait only that long, time to put them under the bus.They would (and have) done the same with position reversed.


  • Hasan Awan
    Apr 23, 2012 - 2:53AM

    Our national interests comes in last so no wonder that we are the neighbours of Gas and Oil rich Iran but we are so afraid of our masters Saudia Arabia and America that we never dare to ask them anything. Energy Security is a priority of every country and it should be a priority to our government as well to secure its energy supplies and Iran could be a vital source of energy for Pakistan in future. Iran Pipe line project could be completed in less than one year and our energy needs could be fulfilled but we have to protect the interests of other countries first as Obviously our role as Mercenary is much important then any other thing.


  • AmirB
    Apr 23, 2012 - 3:20AM

    I totally agree with the author. We need to keep both US and Saudia out of our affairs be it economic or social. These are snake heads for us and need to be crushed. I sincerely hope the current leadership won’t succumb to these bully tactics, although their track record is that of a sell-out, probably this time it might be different. A sincere hope…


  • Haris Chaudhry
    Apr 23, 2012 - 3:24AM

    Weak, hungry and destitute nations will always get bullied ! Slogans about national honour and dignity dont mean much in international arena where money, might and size counts..

    Imagine if US was to tell China or India how to conduct its relations with its neighbours and admonish it publicly.. they would have told US in very clear terms where to go..

    Accept the fact that we are looked down by (almost) all nations globally as trouble makers, broken, corrupt and beggar of a nation which is killing its own by its own ..

    Honestly speaking, I think we deserved to be bullied.. US has to preserve its own national interests and will do what needs done and we are a nation that is just slogans and chants without any substance..

    Perhaps this kicking whilst we are already down on the floor might get us to come to our senses and wake up from our deep slumber.. I doubt though..



  • gujranwala789
    Apr 23, 2012 - 3:32AM

    Saudia Arabia is the only true friend of pakistan, even more than china. For iran I want to say something but it will not be published.


  • Subah
    Apr 23, 2012 - 3:49AM

    This is what happens when a country loses its soverignty. The mother-in-law has to tell the daughter-in-law who to make a friend and who to hate, even if she likes it or not. Does’nt it feel like being a puppet? WHo is our true friend? The one posing to be our guide or friend, is he our enemy? It is hard to tell. Its like taking a blindfolded person, promising to take him to a beautiful place, but when he opens his eyes he is alone in complete darkness.


  • Naseer Muhammad
    Apr 23, 2012 - 5:07AM



  • American Desi
    Apr 23, 2012 - 5:16AM

    Very well written and energy security is real issue unlike the perceived threats from Afghanistan/ India/ Iran or USA to the “sovereignty” of the country.


  • Gaurav
    Apr 23, 2012 - 5:49AM

    USA is Judiciary, Saudi Arabia is Legislature and Army is Executive for Pakistan


  • Zulfiqar Ali
    Apr 23, 2012 - 5:53AM

    Though a brilliant article; I would recommend for a cautious approach. For the time being (read 2-3 years), I would recommend “wait and watch approach.” In the mean time, I would also recommend to get funding from the Saudis/Americans for the losses incurred by the Pakistanis in the shape of grants/deferred payment plans. And no, wait and watch approach doesn’t mean that we are giving in to external pressures; it simply means that we are keeping our cards to ourselves and will show only at the right moment.


  • Tknk
    Apr 23, 2012 - 5:53AM

    Long term interests of Pakistan lies in exploring it’s own energy resources, having good ties with it’s neighbors, expand commerce and trade, investing in infrastructure, attract foreign investment…

    Fighting with US for a pipeline from an unreliable state is futile and will not truly serve any worthwhile purpose. All goodwill generated between US and India has paved way for nuclear fuel agreements and many more areas of cooperation.

    I would choose US over Iran on any given day…


  • vasan
    Apr 23, 2012 - 6:23AM

    It is unfair that US exerts pressure on pakistan against the IP pipeline. If anything, they must get the pressure only thru the UN Security council, in which case, it becomes legal.


  • Rajeev Nidumolu
    Apr 23, 2012 - 6:24AM

    The basic question is whether Pakistan can forgo economic assistance from Saudi Arabia and US ? If it cannot there is no point of showing muscle as Pakistan has no economic muscle. Pakistan cannot play in the major leagues at this time because economic situation is in mess and that makes it susceptible to external pressure


  • Mirza
    Apr 23, 2012 - 6:53AM

    It is business and Pakistan should do what is best for us. It is that simple. Don’t mix business with politics.


  • Ken Bryant
    Apr 23, 2012 - 7:08AM

    Perhaps, then, Pakistan has more to gain from Iran than from the US. If so, your argument is sound. If not, it’s you who needs to get real.


  • Marium
    Apr 23, 2012 - 7:30AM

    @ Hedge fund

    We’v played mercenary army for the US for quite some time now. Thus, get over the notion of “Owing ” them for their Aid.

    @ To all , The point is this. Pakistan needs to think of its own national interests, whether in the field of energy or security.


  • Shahzad
    Apr 23, 2012 - 7:33AM

    Well written USA will be USA we have to weigh the pipeline with USA’s nod to IMF.


  • Apr 23, 2012 - 8:14AM

    Well in a perfect world this makes sense. Pakistan has needs and this is an easy route. Fair enough.

    But, we don’t live in that World, do we! US is a Super Power and its interests lie in making sure Iran doesn’t get its hands onto Nukes. Pakistan, at best, is a middle level power and crumbling. US is not an angel to put Pakistan’s interests above its own.

    Debating the morality of a Super Power US is a waste of time. Every Country in this World has bloodied its hands and played unfairly once in its lifetime. Being a superpower the spotlight is always on you. So, pointing out its associations with China or Saudia is a waste of time.

    US, EU and countries like Japan, Australia, Canada,etc form more than 60% of World GDP, if not more. Might is indeed right. Lets thank God that most of the Countries are democratic and free. Imagine a World where the likes of Pakistan, China and North Korea for 60% of the World GDP!! Thats the scary part.

    US is effectively attempting to make sure the influence of non-Democratic powers doesn’t increase. It may not be the intention but certainly will be the outcome, which I whole heartedly agree with.


  • MarkH
    Apr 23, 2012 - 8:47AM

    @wali baba:
    That got a laugh out of me. How, exactly, is this pressure going to be applied? More anti-US slogans and rallies? You are not in a position to be able to remotely strong arm anyone. You can’t even cause enough pressure to people inside your borders to go a day without some form of hate crime.
    Here’s the reality of it for you: You have exactly zero leverage. You could get sanctioned, laughed at and told to suffer. You could be left without a single choice in your favor and nobody is obligated to give you ideas or offer help in any way.
    @Hasan Awan:
    um. What? You guys do nothing but ask for things.


  • gp65
    Apr 23, 2012 - 9:55AM

    @Malang: “We must devise our strategy according to our needs, not according to our so called Saudia and American friends.”

    Excellent point – in theory. The practical problem is that Pakistan expects USA and KSA to help fund its energy projects. The recent World Bank loan for $1.8 billion to fund energy projects Pakistan has obtained due to US support is a case in the point.When you get something you will also have to give up something.


  • gp65
    Apr 23, 2012 - 10:02AM

    @Sonya: “As a loyal friend, Saudi Arabia has helped USA every time they are in trouble … and the problem is that it is believed to be a brethren country in Pakistan”.

    Saudi Arabia is anti-Iran for its own reasons and not just to support US. Surely you know that. I am also surprised at the talk of Muslim brotherhood continuing. Consider:

    1971 West Pakistan treatment of East Pakistan Muslims
    The 8 year Iraq Iran war
    Iraq attacking Kuwait in 1991
    Bahrain’s Sunni rulers persecution of the Shia majority and the patcipation of Pakistan soldierssupporting the ruler
    Target killing of Hazara and Gilgit Shias in Pakistan

  • Jakhuzg
    Apr 23, 2012 - 11:13AM

    All those guys who are of the view that Dr Perviaz Hoodboy is an American agent should revisit their opinion about him after reading this write-up.


  • Apr 23, 2012 - 11:18AM

    Pakistan’s best interest is not in defying Saudis and Americans to buy expensive Iranian gas and end up with crippling sanctions which could be much worse than its current energy crisis. Its best interests will be served by developing its own cheap domestic shale gas on an accelerated schedule with Saudi investment and US tech know-how. If the Americans and the Saudis refuse to help, then Pakistan will have a stronger case to go with the Iran gas option.


  • Kashan
    Apr 23, 2012 - 11:36AM

    Having win win relations with neighbors is always a right strategy for a peaceful country. In this sense Pakistan must workout IP pipeline project as it is its dire need. A country like US who is having a history of murder and destruction ( Japan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq examples) can not dictate Pakistan to make its decisions as per her will. Pakistan needs to work on multifaceted strategy to achieve its progress milestones. All projects like IP Pipeline, Thar Coal, Rikodeck Gold, Basha Dam need to be executed at war like strategy to bring prosperity in Pakistan. And the threat of terrorism to be uprooted in order to ensure that these projects will be executed.


  • V L Rao
    Apr 23, 2012 - 11:45AM

    With both Saudi and USA opposed to the Iranian pipe line , there is no chance the it will be built.
    With the Chinese having washed their hands off this project, there is no funding available, and even if there is, Pakistan cannot go against the wish of its major benefactors


  • Lala Gee
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:04PM


    “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t – not a pretty position to be in. I totally agree that the Iran-Pakistan pipeline makes eminent sense in ensuring the energy security of Pakistan, and avoiding mounting chaos and further economic decline. However, it is also equally important to avoid making politically imprudent statements at a time when even stronger economies like China and India are making token gestures to support the US-led economic stranglehold. I would advocate quietly proceed with the construction of the pipeline without any further statements on its future. If tensions on Iran’s nuclear programme dissipate, there need be no further delays in making the pipeline operational; on the other hand, if the already precipitous relationship between Pak and the US goes into free-fall, the pipeline could be the difference between survival and ruin.”

    Unusually a positive gesture across the border. Excellent suggestion worth consideration.


  • Riaz Khan
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:08PM

    One of very few writers in Pakistan whom I read & take their comments seriously! Love you PH.


  • concerned
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:37PM

    Our “strategic depth” policy has certainly put our country into the depths of despair. Lets see how they handle this one. I would’nt hold my breath !!!


  • Hedgefunder
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:46PM

    Hollow Words !!! try making it happen without US’ s Blessings !!!


  • Nikhilesh
    Apr 23, 2012 - 1:04PM

    Pakistanis are bound to be anti-American. It doesn’t matter what the US does or not. US helped release $1.8 billion from World Bank for Pakistan. Does it mean that Pakistanis will shower gratitude towards USA? They never will. Thus, US is left with no other option but to play hardball with Pakistan to get things done. US is simply pursuing its own national interests and has stopped bothering about how Pakistani sentiments will be affected by it.


  • Apr 23, 2012 - 1:52PM

    I never expected such a one-sided write-up from Pervez Hoodbhoy, with no mention of Balochistan at all. We thought he was a friend of the Baloch but he is speaking the language of the Pakistan military soldiers.The pipeline will pass through Balochistan and and the Baloch are not enthusiastic about it unless and until the question of Balochistan self-determination is decided under international auspices.


  • Munir Ahmed
    Apr 23, 2012 - 1:55PM

    @Riaz Haq: Shale gas is indeed a promising energy source, but be aware of the water pollution it creates. Texas, Louisiana, Alabama have started it; but are encountering water issues. Hence New York state was hesitant in allowing that. That is one of the reasons why Obama Admin is ‘not’ fully backing this energy source even though economics and politics of it is so promising.


  • Riaz Khan
    Apr 23, 2012 - 1:57PM

    We MUST be friendly with all neighboring countries including Iran, Afghanistan & of course with India but must have excellent relations with USA in order to progress economically. There is a saying USA can make you or break you. Choice is ours! But it seems we have a DEATH WISH to destroy ourselves.


  • syed baqar ahsan
    Apr 23, 2012 - 2:00PM

    SIR,this is first time that you have express your absolutely balanced opinion about these two countries.USA and KSA are ruining this country of ours since 1979.They are involved in spoiling every system and dividing our society.Thanks to you sir and keep it up.


  • Chandio
    Apr 23, 2012 - 2:03PM

    @Riaz Haq: Shale gas is false hope.The “fracking” process needs too much water and is a source of pollution.In a country like Pakistan where water shortages and pollution are already issues to be dealt with.It is already under review in USA and is on hold in many states because of environmental factors.Please understand the tech before making suggestions.


  • FactCheck
    Apr 23, 2012 - 2:41PM

    Don’t get cocky. You may need Saudi money to build it. Pipeline is unlikely at the moment, you need money and technology. Iran and Pakistan has neither at the moment. IMF loan won’t happen due to Iran sanctions.

    Nothing brilliant about nothing.


  • Sam
    Apr 23, 2012 - 2:57PM

    A brilliant piece of writing and great analysis. Saudi interference should be stopped. They cannot manage their internal issues and trying to persuade Pakistan for an alternate plan.


  • Pankaj
    Apr 23, 2012 - 3:28PM

    Dear Sir
    The reality is that Pakistan has NO MONEY to pay for the construction of the Iran
    Pakistan Pipeline
    You must have seen the LATEST news about Pakistan approaching IMF AGAIN


  • Ahsan Shah
    Apr 23, 2012 - 4:48PM

    ALL Problems of Pakistan lies with these 2 countires, America and Saudia

    Both fund terrorists to destablize Pakistan



  • adam
    Apr 23, 2012 - 5:35PM

    For some extremists in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia is their center of all guidance and even they can live with food if Saudis don’t provide them money since they entirely depend on the charity from Saudi Arabia. These people are bing used for creating hattered amoing muslims sects and conversion of poor muslims into their brand of Islam. Recommend

  • gp65
    Apr 23, 2012 - 6:34PM

    @Riaz Haq: “Its best interests will be served by developing its own cheap domestic shale gas on an accelerated schedule with Saudi investment and US tech know-how. If the Americans and the Saudis refuse to help, then Pakistan will have a stronger case to go with the Iran gas option.”

    Do not follow the logic. I thought the reason you stated that Pakistan should not pursue the IP option is because:
    1) crippling sanctions that follow could be worse than the current energy shortage
    2) the price offered by Iran was very high.

    If US refuses to offer shale gas technology will any of those facts change? As for funding US has already leaned on World Bank to provide a $1.8 b loan to address PAk’s energy problems. Pakistan does not really have the leverage to blackmail US and demand the shale technology as you believe you do.


  • Ali Wali
    Apr 23, 2012 - 6:53PM

    It is not just Oil we need from iran, we need to implement their educational model in our institutions, especially the approach of Syed Hossein Nasr and Haj Muhammad Legenhausen is remarkable.


  • Z.Khan
    Apr 23, 2012 - 7:38PM

    A well written article but one has to consider hard facts on the ground before jumpint to some concrete conclusions.
    1. Attainment of Nuclear weapon should never be welcomed. As suggested by writer Iran should strive to convince the world for non development of atomic weapons. Hypocrisy by Pakistan, encouraging or providing indirectly assistance Iran to acquire atomic weapons technology at this historic point, might cause more damage to Pakistan. As very wisely suggested by writer, Iran should divert its resources for the welfare of its people.
    2. US is a super power and one can not ignore so easily the threat given by its FM Ms Clinton. China bank is already out from finances. Gazprom earns its lively hood from Europe which is right hand of USA. It will be like living in fools paradise if Pakistan expected some positive financial gesture from Gazprom.
    3. Saudi Arabia is interested in Pakistan as long it serves its vested interests. Extending helpt to religious mullah theocracy is just another face of Saudi Arabia techniques. It will never ever go against US interest or dictates. King Monarchy has to survive which can survive only with US assistance relative to Pakistan which carries no weight.
    4. Only reasonable and sensible solution lies in mutual dialogue and give and take policy with honest and sincere committments. Development of Atom bomb at all are not in favour of any one. These days survial is connected to economic strength and not to atom bombs. Iran should consider it. After having honest and trustworthy guarantees Iran not developing an atom bomb, all can enter in to frutiful dialogue and IP pipeline project can become a reality. Same time TAIP pipeline project can also become a reality as needs and population of the region is ever increasing. Recommend

  • jawad
    Apr 23, 2012 - 7:59PM

    During this Energy crisis, IP gas pipeline is must, as it is the urggent and economical fix to this issue.Credit goes to current civilian government for sticking to this project so far.


  • Lala Gee
    Apr 23, 2012 - 8:03PM

    @Ahmar Mustikhan:

    “Baloch are not enthusiastic about it unless and until the question of Balochistan self-determination is decided under international auspices.”

    We will do that too on first come first serve basis. Let the UN get it done in Kashmir first. You need to be a little patient like us waiting for it to happen since last 64 years.


  • M M Aslam
    Apr 23, 2012 - 8:29PM

    Brilliant as always….Need to mobilise masses for speeding up this life line of our economy as well as social fabric…..Power outages could actually trigger a reaction from the HAVE NOTS which could likely sweep away the existing modicum of state in Pakistan……Media needs to wake up in time…..Leadership should be forced to Bluntly tell the US and KSA to go ‘Take a walk’ and stop meddling in this project…


  • Usman786
    Apr 23, 2012 - 8:38PM

    and u Indian are always at service of new masters be it mughals, US or USSR.
    He shd have used the word “LAY OFF” used earlier by Mush – teray janay ke baad terri yaad aaey….
    To stand up against them we need great leaders and nation backing them which is not the case now. Thar coal is most important source need to be tapped. Recommend

  • Lala Gee
    Apr 23, 2012 - 8:39PM


    “These days survial is connected to economic strength and not to atom bombs.”

    Had this been true then there was no need to keep nuclear arsenal by the “Nuclear Club” countries including Israel. In my opinion, the west, represented by USA, has already decided to end the Iranian influence in the Middle East by militarily destroying her and installing a puppet government there The only way of survival for Iran is to develop nuclear devices, lot of them, and quickly before being attacked. The events happening in Pakistan, Afghanistan,India, and in the region are not random and without purpose. These are directly linked to the future plans of USA, and Pakistani strategists likely knew these plans for quite some time and tried to neutralized the threat to their own safety by helping Iran, North Korea, and Libya through Khan’s network. Now, our own safety and the future depends what happens in Iran. And this secret war game is going on for over a decade now.


  • Kanwal
    Apr 23, 2012 - 8:57PM

    Bravo Dear writer!
    I wish these two countries stop trying to “help” us. We will be much much better off without such friends, or shall i say, fiends.


  • gp65
    Apr 23, 2012 - 9:22PM

    Just fyi. Your higher than mountain role models have seen it in their national interests to halve imports from Iran.
    This is not to say that Pakistan should follow suit. But sometimes going against world opinion maybe in national interest, sometimes it may not. All pro and cons should be evaluated before making a decision in national interest. It would be an error to assume that as long as we are doing something that annoys USQ, it will automatically will be in national self interest.


  • Hadi Ansari
    Apr 23, 2012 - 9:23PM

    With due respect to the learned writer it is a politically motivated comments to which he is rightly entitled.I thought intellectuals of the country would have long term views of matters of national interest and will not be swept away by emmotion.Iran or Tapi are short term and will not solve the problem of countrys need .They are both insecure.
    We must now think and move fast towards self sufficiency and total independence in all matters of national interest.Good relationship on equal footing with all is important and achievable if we are economically free.We are too dependent.
    Like so many other intellectuals,the learned writer has also putbin cold storage ,at least in this write up the potential the country has in other energy sources.Solar,wind and coal sectors should receive most attention and I trust those who matter in the politics of country will sincerely work to make the country self sufficient,really sovereign and independent vibrating nation by giving them cheap clean and uninterrupted supply of electricity.Recommend

  • anwar
    Apr 23, 2012 - 9:39PM

    You forgot our agriculture and mosques. Keep Saudi outRecommend

  • antanu g
    Apr 23, 2012 - 9:48PM

    well written…great.


  • Z.Khan
    Apr 23, 2012 - 11:34PM

    @Lala Gee
    Without commenting on your perception of regional situation, I have entirely different view point. You know late ruler Kim of North Korea once advised late Saddam Hussain to declare the possession of an atom bomb to avert US attack on Iraq to which Saddam never acted. In his life time KIM always propagated Nuke tactics and presented it the only reason to avert US attack on the soil of North Korea. Where the economy of the country stood or how people of the country suffered he never bothered. I agree possession of deterrence definitely keeps the enemy at arms length but does not guarantee stability, security or existence of county. Further possession of such device suits those who first give bread and butter to its population. Tell me from nine atomic powers where pathetic situation like Pakistan exists. Ex USSR was much bigger, powerful and resourceful relative to Pakistan or Iran. It was having atom bombs. Did its nuke helped avoiding its disintegration. Economic disaster forced the union to tear apart.
    Same danger is now existing in our region. Short sighted rulers consider the atom bombs will guarantee the security and prosperity of the region while the facts on ground are different. USA, Europe and other allies can strangulate economy of Pakistan and Iran with in weeks. China as well other countries on which our rulers rely will never go against the the interest of globally powerful countries. Germany and Turkey are two living examples. One is economic giant of Europe and other is economic model from Islamic world while both do not possess atom bombs. Due to its economic power, sometimes Germany also snubs USA and at times Turkey also does so. US or its allies dare not ever to attack these countries.
    Once again I will suggest the rulers of the region to reconsider the facts on ground. Redesign the strategic interests for each country and enter in dialogue with all the stake holders of the area. Give and take policy with sincerity and honesty will not only benefit the area but will also save the region from devastating/dire consequences.Recommend

  • True Muslim Paki
    Apr 24, 2012 - 12:32AM

    Good Article. But when China will Trillions of USD in reserves, cannot say no to US and halved oil purchase from US, will pakistan be able to? Also, what happens if saudis stop aid? 1000's of Madrassas in Pakistan survive on Aid from saudi. & 100s of 1000s of jobs in saudi of Paki`s doing all kind of labour…

    Though the article is nice, i think its impractical


  • Kanwal
    Apr 24, 2012 - 1:31AM

    Please elaborate a bit? I hope you mean that if we HAD left Saudis out a long time time ago, we would have been better off already. So much for supporting the version of Islam they have been happily exporting to us.


  • Arindom
    Apr 24, 2012 - 1:59AM

    The reason all these countries interfere is Pakistan’s fault. It has a peculiar “Chamchagiri” style of foreign policy. Sometimes it calls itself “Major non-NATO” country. Sometimes it tells China “your enemy is my enemy”. At other times to please the Arabs it calls it’s N-bomb an “Islamic” bomb.
    It is no wonder that all these country are having a free run of the country!!


  • ali
    Apr 24, 2012 - 10:24AM


    Excellent and realist column by professor and i realy admir him for this effort


  • Lala Gee
    Apr 24, 2012 - 11:04AM


    Your point of view and the supporting arguments certainly carry enough truth and makes perfect sense. However, the real problem here is that you do not provide a clear-cut comprehensive strategy (what, how, and when) Pakistan and Iran should follow to avert the impending disaster without compromising (or with least adverse effects) their security and national interests. Moreover, you also do not explain how India was/is fit for “possession of such device suits those who first give bread and butter to its population” your point of view, and the very real threat posed by a hostile nuclear armed neighbor if we unilaterally give up. Any further thoughts shall be greatly appreciated.


  • Lala Gee
    Apr 24, 2012 - 11:10AM


    “he reason all these countries interfere is Pakistan’s fault. It has a peculiar “Chamchagiri” style of foreign policy. Sometimes it calls itself “Major non-NATO” country. Sometimes it tells China “your enemy is my enemy”. At other times to please the Arabs it calls it’s N-bomb an “Islamic” bomb.”

    The fact twisting prowess of the Indians is matchless. Had there been any international championship, you would have been the unchallenged world champions. So, congrats for being such great perverts.


  • Abdul Rehman Afzal
    Apr 24, 2012 - 1:02PM

    Good one, where is our best friend china?? largest bank of china has backed out from this deal. we should realize now there is no such thing friendship b/w countries. Issue is with us, we always rely on others.


  • Freedom Seeker
    Apr 24, 2012 - 3:08PM

    It will be excellent if author have also requested American and Saudis to take their Jihadies and loyalist too from Pakistan. It will be much better and peaceful place without them


  • jamal
    Apr 24, 2012 - 5:08PM

    the other day i saw report about transperancy international referring GE and other US companies to US government for allegedly bribing to get rental power projects. if we have enough power sources how will GE and other US companies will make money


  • Z.Khan
    Apr 24, 2012 - 9:04PM

    @Lala Gee:
    Thanks for asking some thing concrete. Hope ET editors will also be comfortable to print it. Before attempting to give some clear cut strategy let us first sort out the basics of international relations.
    1.Foremost thing is to accept the truth and be honest with the bilateral agreements and dialogues. On the pretext of politics or strategic interest at least Pakistan and Iran should not cheat any other country. (Simple to say but extremely difficult to practice in current scenario).
    2.As for Pakistan is concerned, threat perception strategy, which evolved on its creation was correct and worked. However since long new developments took place in the region. Policy makers in both countries did not coup up with changing situation. Pakistan military always and still playing pivotal role in formulating foreign and national security policies for Pakistan. What priorities they have, it always remained confidential and no forum in Pakistan was and is allowed to discuss it. In Iran the religious supreme head has more effective role in running the national security and foreign affairs. Both countries need bold decisions to permit the elected representatives to decide such issues. The contention taken that civil field is not competent enough to decide such issues is not true. Both countries have lot of potential provided it is given chance.
    3. Extremism or fundamentalism, be it in politics, religion or any other field is not permitted. Real teachings of all the religions including Islam preach tolerance, patience and care and love for human beings. None is to be hated due to its color, breed, race, religion or ethnicity. Slogans like wiping out Israel from world map by Iran President or capturing of Kashmir with force by Pakistani Jihad minded elements has neither worked in the past nor will work in future. Such tall but empty claims just adding to the problems of both the countries. I shall say here civil societies of both the countries have also failed to play their role. A small segment of the society in both the countries is Jihad minded but has hijacked the whole society in both the countries. Never ever any strong protest is seen in both the countries for human values or to condemn extremist acts. So unless major segment of civil society is not waking up for the human rights, justice and truth no strategy or policy will work.
    As stated earlier let us first discuss and sort out these basic things which these days play extremely important role for international relations then some concrete strategy and policy guidelines can also be formulated.


  • Abid P Khan
    Apr 25, 2012 - 6:49PM

    I am afraid Iran’s past and present behaviour needs a deeper study than is apparent from this response.
    If by any chance, by Jihad you mean, a concerted effort by the “Muslim Ummat” to throw away the yoke of Western hegemony, you are quite off the mark. The Iranians are using Pakistan for their own foreign policy objectives. And no more. Their blindness lies somewhere else.

    Afghan refugees in Iran, were kept in the border areas in a concentration camp-like environment, with very little possibility of movement within the country unless they were willing to act as pawns.

    The Jihadis in their “struggle” could not find any volunteers from Iran. If the figures I got about Guantanamo prisoners, they were folk from China, Philipines, Malaysia etc etc but none from Iran, which shares a sizable border with Afghanistan.

    Iran pursues a very “selfish” foreign policy, from Pak point of view. They have never heard of, love thy neighbour. Remember the war with IraqRecommend

  • Malik Rashid
    Apr 26, 2012 - 12:36AM

    Doctor Hoodbhoy,
    How could Iran be bypassed in the international energy and transit corridor? Pressuring Iran into giving up nuclear ambition is a worthwhile cause and it is a temporary disruption. For Pakistan, more pressing is the protracted conflict in Baluchistan. The suggested IP pipeline or China’s access to Gwadar cannot be investment-worthy without resolving issues with the Baluch.


More in Opinion