HOPEFULLY, the deal, which President Zardari and President Ahmedinejad inked at Tehran on Sunday, would finally put an end to the dithering that has for so many years marked the project under which Pakistan would get natural gas from Iran to help meet its growing energy needs. A formal agreement between the two countries would be signed, according to PM's Advisor on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain, within the next 15 days. India's reluctance to join the project lies in the prospects of unlimited power it hopes to produce under the nuclear accord with the US. Pakistan is left with no choice but to go ahead on its own. It seems that Washington has also relented in its pressure on Islamabad against striking the deal, which it had been opposing because of the substantial economic benefit that would accrue to Tehran. Pakistan is currently experiencing a huge shortfall of energy of between 3,500MW and 4,000MW, which has not only caused a large-scale disruption of life, closure of industries or cut in their production and consequent losses, but is also impeding future economic progress. The new US administration, which has realised that development of the country holds the key to defeating the forces of extremism, appears to have softened its stance on this issue. Efforts should now be directed to speed up the preliminary work of the project so that the construction of the pipeline could begin. The Iranians would understandably be quite quick in finishing the job in their territory. Pakistan must make sure that once the German firm hired to do the designing and other concerned agencies complete their part of the project there should be no delay in executing the actual constructing work of the pipeline. There is widespread scepticism in the government's assurance that the power crisis will be over by the end of the year. Besides, the rising demand would tend to make the scenario of shortfall gloomier by the time the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline nicknamed "Peace Pipeline" comes on line. The good news of the pipeline deal came from the sideline of the tripartite summit of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, President Asif Zardari and President Hamid Karzai. At the conclusion of the meeting they issued the Tehran Declaration, containing, apart from other things, commitment of joint moves to combat extremism. They talked of common challenges and common potentials to meet them for a better life for the coming generations. There is need to translate these observations into reality to get rid of the various ills affecting the region: extremism, social backwardness and economic under-development.