As a nation which too often faces threats to its sovereignty, mainly because of its peculiar geostrategic, political and economic situation, decisions made independently in Islamabad, which put the country’s own interests first, are always welcome. One of these decisions on the key Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline was announced on August 2 by Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, who said in his briefing that Pakistan had handed over a ‘non-paper’ to the US Secretary of State John Kerry during his recent visit, informing him of Pakistan’s plans to move ahead with the pipeline, which is envisaged to be completed by 2014, and will bring in a much-needed flow of natural gas to an energy-starved nation, where many commercial and industrial enterprises face collapse — or indeed have already collapsed — due to the lack of fuel available to them.
Given the catastrophe this has caused, with the full economic impact of an energy crisis that has resulted in thousands of lay-offs yet to be fully assessed, Pakistan, of course, needs the gas from Iran. The FO spokesman said that in Islamabad’s assessment, there was no violation of economic sanctions on Iran by implementing the pipeline project. Washington has bitterly opposed the multibillion dollar pipeline project and made attempts to persuade Islamabad to abandon it. The decision by the PML-N government to go ahead with the pipeline project, agreed on between President Asif Ali Zardari and his Iranian counterpart in March this year is wise, with Pakistan’s own priorities put first on the list. The people of the country need such thinking.
We also need better relations with all our neighbours. The ‘peace’ pipeline, as it is also called, helps move towards this. It is also a reminder that Pakistan needs to put its own priorities above everything else. No one else will do so for us or our people. The lessons of the past have made this quite clear to us and we must base our future keeping in mind these factors and remembering that every outside nation will be putting its own interests before ours. That is the way of the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2013.