Gilgit-Baltistan:Asian Gaspipeline Diplomacy

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Iran’s defiance of nuclear non-proliferation as desired by the US and her European allies has exacerbated uncertainty and tension in the region. Hawks in Washington talked of war. But the Pentagon wouldn’t want a third front to be opened in West Asia. Instead, it went with the policy planners to take out Iran financially.

Iranian oil exports to the European countries are already under embargo. Of course, it will have its disturbing impact. Apart from that, the US is determined to screw up the mega IP gas pipeline and subject Iranian economy to stress.

The Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline was originally estimated to be a $7 billion mega project that would originate in the enormous South Pars gas field of Iran and terminate in India. Both India and Pakistan are energy starved countries. But the US relentlessly opposed the project to deny Iran the enormous revenues it was bound to yield.

US have been pursuing oil diplomacy in Central and West Asia with the main objective of denying both Iran and Russia the benefits of enormous earnings from the energy source and the revenue from its transportation.

With unrelenting pressure from Washington, India dropped out of the IPI project in 2009 but clinched the civilian nuclear technology deal from the US against abandoning the IPI. Time will decide whether this was an equitable bargain or not.

But Pakistan much more starved for power than India is, moved ahead and, in the teeth of opposition from Washington, concluded the IP treaty with Iran. The pipeline covering 2,775 kms is estimated to be built at a cost of 1.5 billion dollars.

When India dropped out of the initial project, Pakistan tried to make up the deficiency for Iran by roping in China. Chinese pipeline experts recommended laying the gas pipeline along the Karakorum Highway which meant that the IP gas pipeline would be turned northward and through AJK and Gilgit Baltistan, to the Chinese eastern province of Xingjian.

Washington is determined to block the project. Not only India, but Pakistan, China and Turkey are also targeted to cease import of gas from Iran. How far will Pakistan resist the pressure and have her way in this particular exercise is to be watched. Pakistan’s remonstration that she is badly in need of power and the gas pipeline should be completed by 2014 if Pakistan has to survive has fallen on deaf ears. When Pakistan insisted, the Secretary of State bluntly warned that the US would take away Pakistan financially. The “more allied than allies” Pakistan never expected to be treated in a scurvy manner by her US benefactors.

Pakistan is faced with acute power shortage. Political instability and rising tension on account of Pakistan Taliban terror has brought the country to the brink of disaster. China is helping her with civilian nuclear technology to balance Indo-US agreement. Iran has also increased her oil exports to Pakistan to the tune of 80,000 barrels a day and has also provided Islamabad with $ 250 million support for laying the proposed gas pipeline on her territory.

With all said and done, the fate of IP pipe line is uncertain. Even the much hyped extension to Xinjiang, too, is faced with reservations from Beijing. First is the feasibility of the line across the Karakorum and secondly as well as most importantly, Xinjiang is in turmoil where the Uighurs of Sunni Muslim faith are restive and demanding separation from Chinese mainland. Should Beijing take the risk of bringing the prestigious and expensive pipeline to a restive and disturbed province, is a big question. This also was the argument of India when the question of extending the IP to India came up for serious discussion…

The fate of a second pipeline, namely Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipe line called TAPI is also hanging in balance. Washington is pursuing the same policy in this case as well. It does not favour forging of gas grid between South Asia and South West Asia as, in its perception, that would change the economy of the countries concerned and with that the balance of power in the region.  It can have far-reaching bearing on American dominance in the region.  Perils in the path of this pipe line are many. It has to pass through the ‘satrapies’ of Afghan tribal lords who are adepts in the art of blackmailing. Then it has to pass through the northern parts of Baluchistan if it comes to India. That again is an uncertain prospect. TAPI gas pipeline has been under consideration for a long time and some Afghan tribal chiefs and war lords were flown to Texas before the outbreak of US-Afghanistan crisis.

Washington has realized that imposition of sanctions on Iran would not prove very effective to deter latter’s nuclear enterprise. Earlier also sanctions were imposed but without desired results. Economic isolation of Iran is the next strategy now pursued relentlessly by the US. Iran has begun to feel the heat.

The US does not brush aside the possibility of gas importing countries like India, Pakistan, Chin and Turkey bringing pressure on Teheran to reconsider her policy towards the US and Israel. Iran’s anti-Israel stance is essentially based on Iran’s urge to show down the Saudis that she has the potential to be the leader of the Islamic world. That many Arab countries are soft pedaling with Israel is no secret. In the broader context of regional strategies, each Islamic country has its permutation and combination vis-à-vis Israel and the US.

In order to tighten the stranglehold on Pakistan, the US Congressmen are raking up the issue of separation of Baluchistan from the federation of Pakistan’s Islamic Republic. First the human rights violations in Baluchistan and now the slogan of self-determination have been gaining momentum in that restive province. The grapevine has it that even arms and sophisticated communication material is being supplied to selected groups of Baluch mujahideen. Recently Pakistani Prime Minister offered an economic package to Baluchistan to mollify opposition. But this is not the first time that such gestures of so-called goodwill are exuded by Islamabad. The response of Baluchis has always been the same.

Islamabad is treating the Pakistani Taliban activists with carrot and stick policy. Nevertheless apprehensive that any let down would embolden them to strike more frequently at army bases and cause further damage to the prestige of Pakistan Army, action against them in North Waziristan has been intensified by Pak troops. This is not for the love of the Americans but because the very prestige and status of Pakistan Army stands at crossroads.



Gilgit-Baltistan: Tourism in Tajikistan

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By Agha Iqrar Haroon

Although all of Central Asia is landlocked, the worst condition is that of Tajikistan, and this is the greatest reason that this Central Asian country is not getting its due share in tourism and trade and stands as the poorest of all in Central Asia. Another reason seems to be its visa and permit system for traveling within the country that is discouraging the international travel market to sell it as a tourism destination.
The question that should come to mind is, why are the worst conditions being faced by Tajikistan?

Tajikistan is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east. Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan are separated from Tajikistan by the narrow Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan in the south.

China can connect to Kazakhstan through an expressway, but linkage of Tajikistan with this expressway has yet to be realized. This link is not open while Afghanistan is volatile country still in war and could be in war for many decades (since 1979, Afghanistan has never come out of war).

After independence, Tajikistan suffered from a devastating civil war that lasted from 1992 to 1997. Since the end of the war, newly-established political stability and foreign aid have allowed the country’s economy to grow. Trade in commodities such as cotton, aluminum, and uranium has contributed greatly to this steady improvement. However, foreign aid organizations look more interested in connecting Tajikistan with Afghanistan for travel and trade, and this strategy is hampering Tajik tourism and business.

The Pamir Mountains are the strongest product of this country, but the visa and entry permit system is one of the major impediments for the development of tourism towards the Pamir Mountains. When you travel along the Afghan-Tajik border, you need to have a special permit. When you wish to travel to the Badhakshan region, again you need a special permit from the Governor of Badhakshan. Border crossings with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are not very friendly and can be closed anytime without warning. Reaching Pamir Mountains needs too much work for international tour operators, so they are discouraged by the system and offer their clients Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhistan, or Uzbekistan instead of offering Tajikistan.

In all these downbeat states of affairs, Tajikistan tourism is surviving, and if foreign donors support Tajik tourism development without blending it with Afghanistan’s north tourism initiative, Tajikistan can become a hub of tourism activities in Central Asia. Tourism experts consider that Tajikistan is a country of many weaknesses but also has many advantages for developing a strong tourism base. Tajikistan has everything to offer – friendly people, beautiful valleys, and an abundance of natural beauty with the best possible opportunities of developing ecotourism.

Business and tourism arrivals remained low in 2009, 2010, and 2011 compared to its neighbors, due to the limited number of opportunities in the country. As a result, potential travel and tourism revenue remained thwarted.

Tajik airline is also not as proactive as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and has a limited number of international carriers such as Turkish Airlines AS and Air Baltic, which now have access to Tajikistan but still there is no link from South Asia directly to Tajikistan.

Tajikistan still has a strong potential to be an attractive destination for both leisure and business tourists. The beauty of Pamir Mountains could become a high-profile attraction for adventure tourists, while in business terms, the country may benefit from a growing number of business arrivals through investments in its hydro reserves.

There are some international organizations like Aga Khan Foundation and GIZ that are really helping a lot to develop trade and tourism in Tajikistan but mostly their concentration is in and around the areas of Wakhan Knot, the Wakhan belt, and Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). There are a lot of visa and permit processing involved in reaching these areas, therefore, attempts by these international organizations are not as fruitful for these areas as it could be if the border crossing and permit system was modernized, if not abolished.

It has been observed in research that involvement of the non-government sector to promote the tourism industry in Tajikistan is far higher than the government sector. This trend is good, however, such a trend cannot sustain itself for a longer period if the proactive support of the government is not provided, because decision making is in the hand of government and important decisions can make or break the tourism industry of any country.

Last year, an organization of Milal Inter held a wonderful forum for attracting investment to Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). GBAO borders with 3 countries – Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Kyrgyz Republic, and the People’s Republic of China.

Based on the needs of entrepreneurs, the association of entrepreneurs and mountain farmers, “Milal-Inter,” together with the State Committee on investment and state property management under financial support of Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GbmH had organized an investment forum, “Pamir Invest 2011.”

The Pamirs Eco-Cultural Tourism Association (PECTA) is also working hard to develop tourism through its members in Pamir mountain region. PECTA was founded in 2008 by a group of private-sector tourism businesses with the purpose of developing the tourism sector in the Pamirs through collaborative work.

PECTA is a membership-based association, which represents the Pamirs as a destination in national, regional, and international markets. Association members are grouped into categories based on services they provide and include tour operators, direct tourism service providers, guest houses, hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and home stays. By marketing the services of these members and offering support through training and capacity building, along with representing the destination as a whole, PECTA plays the role of a Destination Management Organization (DMO). Tours and services provide trekking, horse and camel riding, cultural tours, alpine and rock-climbing tours, jeep safaris, bird-watching and wild life observation tours, pilgrim tours, tailor-made tours, visa and permits, transfers, transportation, accommodation, guides, and equipment rental.

Pamir Highway Adventure and the Murghab Eco-Tourism Association (META) are founded and run by local people and promote tourism of Pamirs and Tajikistan.

The Murghab EcoTourism Association was established in 2003. The association participants, chosen from among the most economically-vulnerable families, received basic training, and a code of ethics was adopted by all stakeholders. The association has subsequently become a revenue-generating activity due to collaboration with other local development agencies. In particular, an association of women artisans has produced local craft goods that are now exported to various outlets in Central Asia and Europe.

The review of Tajikistan tourism indicates that some drastic decisions at the government level are needed to improve the situation, including offering connection with more international airports by its official airline, policies to offer incentives to international airlines to reach its airports, changes in its permit system, better facilities offered at cross-border points, and, of course, a massive media campaign to promote Tajikistan instead of depending upon only private and the non-government sector to promote the country as a destination.

The author of this article, Agha Iqrar Haroon, is the former Consultant to the Ministry of Tourism for the government of Pakistan and the former President of the Ecotourism Society Pakistan (ESP).

Gilgit-Baltistan: Politics of Gas

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THE latest developments on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline projects are such that it may shape into an either-or situation.

While work on the IP pipeline is expected to be completed ahead of schedule, the United States-backed TAPI project has also been expedited. Pipeline politics appear to have come into play. At the moment, the US is in favour of TAPI, Russia and China for IP, India is in a ‘wait and see’ mode and Pakistan seems to be running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.

Pakistan and Turkmenistan recently reached a deal on a gas sale-purchase price for the $7.6bn TAPI pipeline project, scheduled to be completed by 2016. Under the deal, Turkmenistan will deliver 1.3 billion cubic feet a day of gas at 69 per cent of the crude oil parity price, which is much lower than the gas rate of 78 per cent of crude price Islamabad agreed to with Tehran under the IP gas pipeline deal.

The deal on the TAPI pipeline has come at a time when Tehran and Islamabad have expedited efforts to execute the IP gas pipeline, a project that is strongly opposed by the United States. Pakistan has begun to dither on the IP project as Washington stiffens its opposition, pushing Islamabad to accept TAPI as an alternative to the gas pipeline from Iran.

Last year, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India initialled the Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement in Ashgabat. The
proposed 1680km TAPI pipeline will start from Daulatabad field in Turkmenistan and end at Fazilka settlement at the border of India and Pakistan. The pipeline will have to pass through war-torn Afghanistan as well as insurgency-hit Balochistan in Pakistan. Security in the volatile Afghanistan has been the key issue related to the execution of the TAPI project.

Under the IP deal, Iran will deliver about 750 million cubic feet of gas per day to Pakistan by the end of 2014. After India’s withdrawal from the project in 2009, Iran and Pakistan decided to implement the project bilaterally. The IP project is pressing ahead of schedule despite the American opposition.

Federal Minister for Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain recently said that a breakthrough in the project depends on an “understanding” with the international community. Some analysts even claim that during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan last month, Washington and Islamabad reached a deal due to which Islamabad is dithering on the IP gas pipeline project.

Pakistan is dithering at a time when all issues relating to the IP project between Islamabad and Tehran have been settled, including gas sale and purchase agreement (GSPA) and third-party certification for the uninterrupted supply of gas from the source field to Pakistan for 30 years.

The price difference of nine per cent between Turkman and Iran gas not only provides an opportunity to Pakistan to renegotiate price with Iran but also opens a window for the country to abandon the IP agreement without paying penalties in case UN sanctions are imposed on Tehran.

Washington’s advice to shelve the IP pipeline project is hardly sound. How can Pakistan go back on the Iran deal when it faces chronic gas shortages itself and its own proven gas reserves are known to be dwindling? It would be folly to walk away from the IP project for an insecure and uncertain TAPI project.

Pakistan is, however, expected to go ahead with the IP project despite US opposition if China joins the project. China is not only interested in initially investing $2.5bn in the Pakistani part of the project but also in a gas pipeline extension to its territory. Around 1,100km of the IP pipeline will be built in Iran, while the remaining 1,000km will be set up in Pakistan. Last year, secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum, Kamran Lashari, disclosed that Pakistan is in negotiations with China for the availability of technical equipment for laying the IP pipeline.

Russia has been opposed to the TAPI project and backing the IP project. Russian gas giant Gazprom has also shown an interest in participating in the IP pipeline project. It was Gazprom that first proposed the project of building an underwater gas pipeline from Iran to India in 1997. Under the proposal, a gas pipeline would pass overland in Iran and India and underwater in its Pakistani section.

Moscow wants Turkmenistan’s gas to be firmly under its control and it has done everything it could to frustrate the TAPI pipeline project. Gazprom is said to have helped facilitate an abortive coup against the late president Niyazov (who had been very active in making the TAPI project a reality) in 2002.

India has reportedly shown interest in rejoining the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project despite American opposition. India’s renewed interest in the IP project is a move to keep China away from the project, as after India’s withdrawal Beijing showed an interest in building an Iran-Pakistan-China (IPC) pipeline that provides it a chance of obtaining a secure overland gas pipeline. New Delhi, which is locked in an energy game with Beijing, is not willing to give China a chance to replace it in the IPI project.

The expected Chinese participation in the IP project would create a new overland energy link that could complement China’s energy diversification strategy, even though the project would face several political and logistical difficulties as the pipeline has to traverse the very difficult terrain of Gilgit-Baltistan and the restive Balochistan province.

The writer is a development analyst and has written a number of books including The Economic Development of Balochistan and can be reached at

Gilgit-Baltistan:US indicates willingness to back major new energy project in Pakistan

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WASHINGTON (APP): The United States has indicated it’s willingness to partly finance completion of a major new energy project in Pakistan that would help address power shortage in the country and also conserve water. “We are currently evaluating prospective projects and activities for FY 2011 funding, with the goal of selecting a major new infrastructure project that would both contribute to power generation and water management, and serve as a U.S. “signature” contribution to Pakistan’s energy sector development,” the State Department said in a report. The report, submitted to U.S. Congress, does not name any project but Islamabad has been endeavoring recently to secure international support for its ambitious multi-billion Diamer-Basha Dam in the north of the country.
According to the report “although any U.S. contribution would be a small part of such a project’s overall cost, it would help to unlock funding from multilateral banks and other donors, effectively “branding” the importance of the U.S. contribution, much as many Pakistanis remember and refer to the Tarbela Dam as the iconic U.S. project of past decades.”
The report informs Congress about the severe energy shortfalls Pakistan faces as it struggles to meet it’s growing demands and said energy is the top priority of U.S. assistance to Pakistan.
The report refers to Signature Energy Programs and recalls that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Phase I of the energy program in October 2009 after an accelerated vetting of projects designed to produce near-term results.
These funds were designated to rehabilitate three thermal plants and the Tarbela Dam power plant, replace inefficient tube well pumps for irrigation, and provide technical assistance to promote energy efficiency and reform in the power generation and distribution companies.
“In Phase II of the program we are funding the completion of two dams (Gomal Zam and Satpara) and the accompanying irrigation systems. These dams in FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan are on track to be completed by early 2012 and ultimately will irrigate over 180,000 acres, bring power to 30,000 households, and provide 3.1 million gallons of drinking water daily. By 2012, Phase I and II projects in total will add approximately 900 MW of power generation capacity, which is enough to provide electricity to millions of households.”

Gilgit-Baltistan:NDSU and COMSATS to Develop Solar Water Heating System for Harsh Climates

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Newswise — Researchers from North Dakota State University, Fargo, and COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan, are working together to design a solar water heating system for harsh climates.

The project between the two universities involves developing an eco-friendly heating and cooling system for citizens in the underdeveloped region of Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan, where low winter temperatures and wind chill prevent using existing solar energy technology.

Sumathy Krishnan, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Samee U. Khan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, are leading the NDSU group, while Nasrullah Khan Kalair and Waqar H. Bokhari are leading the effort for COMSATS Institute of Information Technology. Together, they are working to harness solar energy efficiently, even in harsh subfreezing conditions, using carbon dioxide as its working fluid and a direct-expansion heat pump to ensure continuous and efficient operation. One of the project’s goals is to create an affordable prototype costing less than $300 that will be ready for field tests in Gilgit-Baltistan over the next two winters.

The collaboration is part of a larger Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program that awarded NDSU and COMSAT research teams a two-year grant for the project. The Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program was established in 2005 to increase scientific collaboration between researchers of both countries for mutually beneficial, practical and applicable projects. It was developed by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, and Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of Pakistan. In the U.S., the project is managed by the National Academies.

According to Kelly Robbins, manager of the Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology program at the National Academies, this project was one of 25 selected out of 270 proposals for the competitive program, which is jointly funded by the governments of both countries.

“Our Pakistani and U.S. review panels and program sponsors noted that the project will not only help build Pakistani research capabilities but also develop a product that would directly benefit people living in Gilgit-Baltistan,” Robbins said. “The new system could also be deployed in other countries with harsh winters, including the northern United States, and if the project is successful, it could result in a commercializable product that could create new opportunities for manufacturers and installers in both countries.”

For more information on the hybrid solar water heating system joint project, visit

For more information about the program, visit

COMSATS Institute of Information Technology was established in 1999 and since has expanded from 350 students to more than 17,000 with seven campuses throughout Pakistan.

North Dakota State University, Fargo, is notably listed among the top 108 public and private universities in the U.S. in the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education’s elite category of “Research Universities/Very High Research Activity.” As a student-focused, land grant, research institution with more than 14,000 students, NDSU is listed in the top 40 research universities in the U.S. without a medical school, based on research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation.

Gilgit-Baltistan:DBD a lifeline for Pakistan’s Economy

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LAHORE (Nation): Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a ‘lifeline’ for the country’s faltering economy, would not only help meet that country’s future agriculture and power requirements but also ensure food and water security, thanks to the United States for backing the construction of the direly needed project.
Water experts and top agriculturists say that Diamer-Bhasha Dam project would also extend the life of Tarbela Dam by 35 years and would help control flood damages in the country.
However, water strategists warned that the project is likely to face opposition from Indian Lobbyists in the US Congress alleging that Pakistan had allowed Chinese military presence in Gilgit-Baltistan under the garb of repairing Karakoram Highway (KKH). The Indians term it a dangerous development for Indian security.
“The ground-breaking for the Dam in the Northern Areas by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has provided the Indian with an ample opportunity to initiate a fresh water row against Pakistan,” Muhammad Ramzan Rafique, a Denmark-based Pakistani agriculture expert said.
It is important to mention here that the reason for objecting Diamer-Bhasha Dam is Delhi’s stale argument that project is located in disputed territory and could cause floods in Indian-held Kashmir. This politically driven defence by Indian water authorities is totally unjust.
Pakistan is a one-river-basin country and all of its hydroelectric power projects come from the Indus. Estimates suggest that while Pakistan has only achieved 11 per cent storage capacity, India on its allocated eastern rivers has accomplished 52 per cent. In the past, Pakistan benefited immensely from the major water infrastructure (Tarbela, Mangla, Chashma) built in the Indus basin. But now, the storage capacity of these reservoirs is being on a decline due to continuous sedimentation over the last 30 years. Pakistan is left with a very little water storage capacity.
President Pakistan Muttahida Kisan Mahaz, Ayyub Khan Mayo said that Indian external strike against Pakistan is not restricted to just objecting the project rather it has an all-round and all encompassing strategy to destabilize Pakistan.
In order to off-set the Gilgit-Baltistan government, he said, India has a well-thought-out policy of exhorting the people of the region to stand against the government in general and mega project, in particular. He also claimed that there is a credible evidence of Indian financial support for the separatist forces like Balawaristan National Front (BNF) to create mayhem in the Northern Areas.
Defense experts say that the declaration of “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009” that gave self-rule to the people of Northern Areas on the lines of AJK type of governance had frustrated the nefarious designs of India. Besides, India is also exploiting boundary dispute between Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa vis-à-vis royalty issue so as to derail the Diamer-Bhasha dam-building project.
According to experts, this caused a delay of almost four years. Diamer-Bhasha was originally meant to be completed by 2017, but now will likely to be finished in 2021. However, WAPDA has come up with a plan that would evenly split the royalties earned from the hydroelectric power generation at the dam between the two provinces. WAPDA officials hope that the new plan – which would set up six power generation units each in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – will avert the escalation of a dispute.
Pakistan’s experience in Tarbela and Mangla resettlement and profit-sharing has been exemplary. “The government is considering resettlement costs of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam in such a manner that the people displaced by the projects benefit most from them,” an official in the federal government said. According to him, approximately 28,650 people in 31 villages are affected by the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam.
In the wake of commitment to help Pakistan in energy generation ventures, the United States is backing the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. The supporters of a US role in the project say American participation would mend the United States’ tattered image, going a long way toward quieting widespread anti-Americanism. It is recalled that the United States was popular in Pakistan in the 1960s and ’70s when Washington backed the construction of two enormous dams, Tarbela and Mangla.
Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh showed his resolve by saying that despite financial constraints Pakistan will continue to work on major projects like the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. China, the US and the advanced European economies have searched far and wide for energy supplies and pressed their national interest in every international fora. Pakistan, an increasingly water-stressed and energy-deficient country must follow their suit. Diamer-Bhasha Dam may not be panaceas for all the economic woes but it could be a very critical link in Pakistan’s energy and water requirements. What needs to be done is crystal clear: Pakistan needs to push the World Bank to adhere to its own policies and not be influenced by Indian hectoring or complaints.

Gilgit-Baltistan:PM to take up Pakistan-Tajikistan Road with Karzai

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ISLAMABAD(SANA): Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Sunday said that he would take up the Pakistan-Tajikistan road project with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during the forthcoming summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) to be held in the Maldives next month.
The prime minister was talking to Gilgit-Baltistan Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah, who called on him at the Prime Minister House in the federal capital. He said that the completion of the project would provide the shortest possible route to the people of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, besides reinvigorating their historical, cultural and trade ties spread over hundreds of years.
The road project as visualised will connect Pakistan with Tajikistan by passing through eight-kilometre-long Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan.
The prime minister said the project was compatible with the agenda of Saarc summit which is called ‘Connectivity’.
The prime minister said it was his vision to develop good relations with the countries of the region. “I visited a number of countries like Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, India, Iran, China and the Central Asian Republics to further my vision,” he said.
Gilani said that connectivity was intertwined with transit trade and Pakistan was keen to enhance trade with Afghanistan and beyond.
Recalling the signing of Transit Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said that trade among the countries of the region had to be enhanced for which establishment of road and rail networks was essential. Premier Gilani said that he would highlight the cause of connectivity at the Saarc summit because it would not only build bridges among people of the member countries but also create an enabling environment for their socio-economic development.
The Gilgit Baltistan governor told the prime minister that the construction of road on Pakistan’s side would require Rs2 billion, while Tajikistan had already completed the construction of road and bridge on its side of border. He said that he recently travelled to Tajikistan via old route to meet his relatives and friends there.