Our government has mastered the art of sitting on the fence, and waiting to take decisions. The IP gas pipeline and the government’s claim that sanctions on Iran are causing problems in construction is a case of diverting the issue and using ambiguous rhetoric to make up for not having to do any work on the project. How can the failure of Iran to fulfill it’s ‘obligations’ be responsible for our dereliction?

Simply put, the threat of possible sanctions imposed in the event of the completion of the pipeline hang over the government and is the primary reason for the delay, as is the reluctance to fund this project from our own pockets. However, Pakistan needs to remember that in this scenario, the necessity to trade lies with us and not with Iran. It is of course mutually beneficial if gas is imported from the neighboring country, but they are not the ones suffering from a crippling energy shortage and right now, the most realistic option to counter it seems to be the IP gas pipeline. 

 The fact that we have signed the contract should mean something, especially when it is with a country we share borders with. The precedent set through not heeding contracts and agreements is that in the future, Iran will be unwilling to work with Pakistan in a project of this scale. Pretending that we are waiting for Iran to solve its problems is going to fool no one considering we have publicly sought help with financing this project. It’s not really about the sanctions that Iran has to deal with. We are the ones with the problem. Iran is almost done with the construction on their side, while Pakistan has not even started working on the 780 kilometers that it was supposed to construct on this side of the border. The deadline is the beginning of next year.

With less than a year left, further delay is not likely to encourage any potential investors to fund a project that must be completed in such haste. Construction of a pipeline over 780 km needs to take a host of things into account: geography, logistics and circumventing urban centers. Time is running out. Stop fearing the sanctions, make an honest effort to overcome the gas shortage and construct the promised pipeline.