Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) always thought of Pakistan’s deal with Qatar for the supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as an unfair deal. The concerns of the ruling party are not misplaced. The audit report that was published a year ago also made a similar observation. One of the objections in that report was, “The price (13.37% of Brent crude) negotiated with Qatar was at a higher rate as Qatar was the source supplier of LNG whereas trading companies in open market were offering average rates lower than the one finalised with Qatar.” The government from reconsidering all clauses of the deal will now ask Qatar to rethink the price of the facility that Pakistan is buying from it.

The chances are that Qatar will accept the proposition of the Pakistani government. Why is it likely that Qatar will entertain the Pakistani request to revise the price at which it is getting the LNG? The reasons for Qatar doing so are apparent as one of the Gulf countries, i.e., Saudi Arabia, also Qatar’s adversary in the unresolved gulf crisis, is willing to meet Pakistan’s demand for LNG. The interest shown by the Kingdom will prompt Qatar to renegotiate the price. If reports are to be believed the Finance and Foreign Ministers of Pakistan have already informed Qatar of the government’s desire.

Furthermore, at the end of this month, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman is expected to visit Pakistan. The speculations that Riyadh and Islamabad would sign a memorandum of understanding for up to $10 billion Saudi investment in Gwadar will also force Qatar to give some relaxation to Islamabad over the price issue.

It is welcome that the ruling party has guaranteed that it will abide by the 15-year agreement, as it will enhance the trust of the states and business firms in Pakistan a business-friendly nation. Moreover, the approach to request the Qatari ruler for reconsidering the price is a pragmatic one, as it will save Pakistan from litigation in international tribunals.

Furthermore, the ruling party has adopted a very pragmatic foreign policy approach in the Middle East (ME). Pakistan has decided to remain neutral in the disputes that the Middle Eastern countries are fighting. The Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan who will meet the ruler of Qatar on January 22 should continue his foreign policy by adhering to the principle of non-alignment. The principle of neutrality will save the country from earning the hostility of any of these countries. The contracts that Pakistan has entered into with Saudi Arabia and UAE should not preclude the ones that Pakistan has made with Qatar.