Sunday, March 05, 2006

Blessed Gas From Iran?

The President Bush visit to Pakistan was much shorter on most things than the days and nights spent in India.

But it was nevertheless of some importance.

In all probability, it was the first time President Bush and Usama bin-Laden shared the hospitality of the same country at the same time. The bombs outside the US consulate in Karachi served as a reminded of that fact.

Again it was energy that turned out to be an important subject.

The Pakistanis made it clear that they, too, needs new sources of energy in the years ahead, and that nuclear is an important option for them:

We have a holistic energy policy and, frankly speaking we are already pursuing it. We are pursuing nuclear energy for civilian use in the shape of Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-I and II. At the same time, we are also considering the Iran-Pakistan-India and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan gas pipelines,” the Foreign Minister said.

In the one-to-one meeting between President Gen Pervez Musharraf and President Bush as well as the delegation-level talks, the Pakistani side stressed that the country’s economy had been growing at a robust pace for the past few years.

“We need energy to maintain our growth momentum. Few years back, we had a projected gas reserves for 40 years. But after the economic turnover these reserves are now going to last for only 10 to 15 years".

Obviously, a nuclear deal like the one with India was not in the cards, although there is very little doubt that Pakistan will from now on start to work for one in the future.

But the meetings seemes to have produced a no less important U-turn in US policy. It seems as if president Bush accepted the Pakistani arguments that there is a need to build a pipeline to be able to import natural gas from Iran in the future. That pipeline will also, by the way, serve the needs of India.

Previously, US policy to this project has been distinctly negative.

But now news report speaks about another attitude. Mistake? U-turn? New policy?

More will be heard about this.