Monday, 13 May 2013

Pakistan: A Tale of Two Pipelines and the Energy Crisis

The British public is seldom informed about the realities of politics in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is absurd given the fact there is a sizeable Pakistani diaspora in certain cities in the United Kingdom and we ought to know what is at stake as regards the conflicts and tensions there. Yet Simon Tisdall is a dismal so-called journalist who writes in The Guardian today
With one eye on Nato's 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan, Nawaz's conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) says the new government will seek to rebuild harmonious relations with the US, damaged by drone attacks, cross-border incidents and spying rows.
It seems unlikely Pakistan's volatile politics is going to be helped by Nawaz attempting to build 'harmonious' relations with the US when it's increasingly despised by a large number of Pakistani's for the drone attacks which frequently miss their intended targets and blow up Pakistani civilians-unless he's going to demand and end to them.
As in the past, the pragmatic Nawaz will not want to jeopardise $2bn in annual US aid. But he has vowed to review Pakistan's support for America's "war on terror" and says he will seek peace with the Pakistani Taliban, allies of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
What is the chance Nawaz is going to oppose the US policy of Drone attacks when RPakistan is being bribed in $2bn in aid to essentially remain onside and accept the TAPI pipeline as opposed to President Zardari's desire to accept the rival IP pipeline.

NATO's withdrawal in 2014 is mostly in the field of troop reduction. The new Orwellian phrase is 'troop drawdown'. That means reduction. Not withdrawal from Afghanistan because the IP pipeline has already started on the Iranian side while the Taliban are preventing the security necessary for the TAPI one

Much instability is being caused in Pakistan because the USA remains so fixated on getting the TAPI pipeline constructed, the date now being pushed back to 2017. Pakistan is being told by the USA to wait a full three years for a TAPI pipeline amidst power black outs and Drone attacks.

The IP pipeline would deliver gas to Pakistan four times cheaper than the TAPI pipeline and many Pakistani factions are for it. Yet US State Department officials such as Richard Olsen keep threatening Pakistan should it take the Iranian gas imports for violating the sanctions policy.

Simon Tisdall never gives us the full context to these conflicts and struggles over pipeline routes yet its a matter of urgent political debate amongst Pakistani politicians, academics and the media in Karachi and Lahore.If a Westerner wants to know what's really happening read the Pakistani papers.

To fill in the omissions in the British media Pakistan Today carried an interesting piece in March 2013 that backs up what I have said about the reality of the New Great Game and the way Pakistan is being dictated to by the US due to it's aggressive stance against Iran.
ISLAMABAD - US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson on Tuesday said that although America wants to help Pakistan to overcome its energy crisis, however, the US that pursuing of Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project by Pakistan is breach of trust between Pakistan and the United States. Pakistan and Iran have recently signed an agreement in Islamabad to complete the project while President Asif Ali Zardari also paid a visit to the neighboring country last week to discuss the pipeline and to extend relationships with the Iranian leadership. 
Olson said “we have a clear policy over Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline,” while addressing a gathering during his visit to Tarbela Dam on Tuesday.

 He said that the US is in favor of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, adding that US would also help Pakistan reduce its energy crisis if understandings with Iran are called off.

 American’s State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell commenting on the project on said that “it is in Pakistan’s best interest to avoid any sanction inducing activity.

Pakistan is facing a severe energy crisis which has damaged its industrial setup specially the textile sector. “We will help Pakistan to complete Gomal Zam and Sadpara dams,” Olson concluded.

Meanwhile on Monday, Highlighting Pakistan’s growing energy needs and defending its right to explore low-cost solutions on immediate basis, President Asif Ali Zardari told the world that the gas pipeline agreement with Iran is not against any other country.

While inaugurating three different energy projects from the Governor’s House on Monday, Zardari said the energy projects, as well as the gas pipeline with Iran, should be seen as measures to overcome the power shortfall prevailing in the country. -

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