Islamabad’s stand as conveyed by the Foreign Office’s spokesperson that Pakistan would go ahead with the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline regardless of reservations by the US should be welcomed. He stated that since the project did not fall under the UN sanctions regime, there was no reason not to proceed with it. This statement has come after President Zardari’s recent affirmation to complete the project as well as his assertion whether someone likes it or not.

However, on the other hand, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland did confirm reports that the US was trying to convince Pakistan to give up the project, despite no sanctions having been placed. Instead the Obama Administration has been persuading us to go for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline. The ongoing war in Afghanistan is the main roadblock to this project, even though there are varied reports lauding the gas eventually imported through TAPI as cheaper to the consumer, although the cost of the infrastructure may be much higher. Even after the troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan, the prospect of instability, warlordism and civil strife makes it rather impractical.

The immediate benefits of the Iran-Pakistan pipeline are greater when compared with TAPI. First and foremost, we would have plenty of gas from Iran’s huge energy reserves at inexpensive rates, and the quantity of supply itself will enable the decrepit engine of our economy to get back on track. Over 90 percent of construction work on the pipeline as confirmed by Tehran has been completed and now Pakistan needs to do its part by building it up inside its territory. This means that if there are no bureaucratic hitches, it would be completed in a short span of time. Iran has been a reliable friend to Pakistan and it would not use the supply as a tool of influence, unlike a US dominated Afghanistan, which might be tempted to use the pipeline as leverage when it feels annoyed with Pakistan. The decision on the part of Islamabad is good news for the country which deserves appreciation. It must now be ensured that the construction work is taken up on a war-footing since the sooner it is operational, the sooner our industry will be restored.