Pakistan’s firm stance on IP gas pipeline

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This is with reference to news (March 08, 2012 published in Pakistan Today) quoting US Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Hoagland dispelling the impression of US threat of sanctions on Pakistan over the IP gas pipeline. He agreed that gas was a legitimate demand of Pakistan and that the US was ready to help the country. The question is: has Pakistan approached the US for help in this issue? The answer is no.
He further added that they were ready to work with Pakistan on different options to help. Have we asked them to give us options? The answer is no. His statement is self-contradictory. At the first instance why should the US make Pak-Iran gas pipeline a subject of discussion? Are these statements not tantamount to open threats?
The fact of the matter is that ever since we entered into an agreement with Iran, the US has been opposing this project and sounding veiled and open warnings. But the credit must be given to the government that in spite of great opposition and strong reservations by the US, Pakistan did not succumb to their threats.
To put the record straight, let us recount the latest threats of US on Pak-Iran gas pipe line project. On 26 Nov 2011, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter while talking at LUMS Lahore said that the Pak-Iran gas pipeline was not a good idea. The plan to get gas from Turkmenistan was a “better idea”, he said. What is good or bad is for Pakistan to decide. Is it not an interference and threat to a sovereign state?
On 3 March, the US asked Pakistan to “think twice” on its plans to go ahead with the construction of Pak-Iran gas pipe line while cautioning Tehran is an “unreliable” partner, quoting statement of US Secretary of State Henry Clinton that if we went ahead of with the gas pipeline project there would be dangerous implications.
Is it not a threat? State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters that they knew that Pakistan had energy needs and that they were working with Pakistan on those energy needs. We would just encourage them to think twice about aligning themselves with an unreliable partner. Is it not a threat?
He further said that given the international sanctions against Iran, Pakistan would face the burnt of it. Is it not a threat? While concluding, he said they have a variety of sanctions on the books that we would not want to see kick in. It is one of the reasons why we think this is a bad idea and hope it doesn’t go forward. Is it not a threat?
The problem with superpower is that they want others to follow their diktats, or face the consequences. Our relations with the US are totally different than other countries and we enjoy a unique position in the region. To ensure that our relations do not derail, the US should bring change in its policies and understand our needs.
The alternate being suggested over the years TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) apart from security hazards is a longer and expensive route as compared to Iran. The US should read the mode of people of Pakistan and should avoid confrontation on an issue that is our internal matter. Secondly, the people shall not accept any dictation on Pak-Iran gas pipeline by the US and this should be understood by them. We are glad that Pakistan has taken a firm stand on the issue and hope that it shall stand firm irrespective of threats.
LT COL (Retd) MUKHTAR AHMED BUTT
Karachi