THE last caretaker government decided to move forward with the much-anticipated Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project. Now the incumbent government should ensure unhindered and smooth completion of the project.

The cabinet committee had decided to construct an 80km stretch of the pipeline running from the Iranian border to Gwadar. Although the Iranians have built the pipeline on their side, our governments have abjectly failed to even start the project.

This is ostensibly due to imminent sanctions by the West, led by the United States. However, Pakistan finally dared to start the project upon being warned that it will have to pay $18 billion penalty if the project was not started. History bears testimony to the fact that Pakistan has been used as a puppet by the West; unwanted interference by Western powers in our domestic matters has brought us to this juncture.

Unsurprisingly, this shows the inability and incompetence of our leaders where we are taking orders from others despite being a sovereign state. This is a great blow to our foreign policy. Pakistan should learn from its neighbours. Both China and India have been importing Russian oil despite the West’s disgruntlement with this trade in context of the Ukraine war. Are these sanctions not meant for them?

Truly, Pakistan has made many unpopular decisions and botched policies at the behest of powerful allies, and sacrificed national interest at the altar of our self-centred friends, which is a direct assault on the state’s sovereignty.

All fears of US sanctions should be dispensed with. The main focus should be primarily on the project’s completion. Pakistan desperately needs regular and affordable access to natural gas supplies. Dwindling local reserves cannot cater to the needs of domestic and industrial sectors. Access to natural gas will troubleshoot many of our problems, and also reduce costly reliance on oil import.

Fahad Zafar Solangi
Hyderabad

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2024

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