In the teeth of US opposition, the Russian gas company Gazprom has made an offer reportedly on behalf of the Russian government to fund the Pakistan-Iran pipeline. This is no small gesture of support because first of all Gazprom has made a name for itself for being one of the leading gas companies in the world. There is hardly any doubt that it can handle the construction of the pipeline very effectively. And secondly, the funding itself will come from the Russian government as stated by Gazprom officials. So for us, it is a win-win situation that we must cash in on.

It is hoped that Islamabad would respond to Gazprom’s offer of investment and grant the contract as quickly as possible. A timely completion of the project has to be ensured because, otherwise, there is a heavy financial penalty that Islamabad would have to bear each year. Besides, the Iranian government that has completed the work on the pipeline in its territory has assured Pakistan time and again that it would sell the natural gas at an inexpensive rate. And what’s more President Mehmoud Ahmedinejad even assured us during the trilateral summit that the gas supply could be doubled, if we so desired. Crippling gas shortage has paralysed our economy. The society as a whole suffers badly as loadshedding extends to several hours a day. Such is the gravity of the energy crisis that it has caused unrest in the country. Should we ignore this project, we must know that we would be deliberately destroying our economy.

The Russian gesture also makes it evident that Moscow has come of age: it now stands for peace, and economic prosperity of the region. For instance it has been bravely resisting the West’s manoeuvrings especially at the UN to isolate Iran. And now it wants the Iran-Pakistan pipeline to usher in an era of prosperity for both the nations. This is in stark contrast to US that has been strongly opposing the pipeline over one flimsy pretext or the other. Also it bears pointing out that last year Russia offered to make a substantial investment to upgrade the Pakistan Steel Mills. Set up by the Russians, the mills are a relic of the 1970s when the Russians wanted to develop a genuine friendship with us. Sadly our infatuation with the US did not let it come to fruition. With the uneasy relations we have with the US, it is better to pursue lasting economic and political ties with Russia and, indeed, other countries like China.