France’s offer of helping Pakistan grapple with its energy needs, made during a meeting between French President Francois Hollande and President Asif Zardari in Paris, is welcome development. It can be seen as a token of appreciation for the efforts by Islamabad as it battles with the many threats that still remain a danger to the world.

Another news announced about a week ago by Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh that the US also will be providing $200 million for preliminary work on Bhasha Dam is also comforting. These offers are a token of understanding that the energy quagmire that is pulling in Pakistan with every passing day is a common enemy since at the end of the day its cumulative effects would hit them as well. While this would suggest that Western capitals are cognisant of the dilemmas facing Pakistan, it has yet to be seen whether this time around there is substance in the promises. It will matter a lot if strings are attached. If the offer is given with total commitment it can help put the economy back on track.

Pakistan’s option for the fulfilment of its power needs require, however, a balanced approach, which primarily necessitates that at this stage ad hoc measures, where they would help arrest the growing shortage, would not be enough. In fact, these makeshift arrangements if not supplemented by long term measures will bring us back to the precipice we find ourselves at at present. One of the best options that the country ought to go for is the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, which must not be consigned to limbo in response to pressure. Washington’s concern, at times expressed directly over the project is unfair in the context of Pakistan’s desperate need for energy. The pipeline has to be kept a priority because water in the existing large dams, including Mangla and Tarbela, and their electricity-generating capacity has almost reached its end. And unless new ones are constructed, the situation cannot be redeemed. Most importantly, the energy cooperation promised by France or any other country may well be subject to their ever changing global perspective where Pakistan is seen as ‘not doing enough’ to tackle terrorism.

It is hoped that the assurance held out by the French President would materialise but, at the same time, Islamabad does not let this offer impinge upon the target set for the completion of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline by 2014.