Shaukat Aziz blows two myths in one blow
In recent weeks, Mani Shankar Aiyar’s soft-headed attempt to mix India’s energy security with naive visions of Pakistani benignity strengthened the hand of those who argue that a pipeline to procure gas from Iran (and passing through Pakistan) is a solution to both problems.
For a government that fears hiking foreign investment limits in Indian companies due to concerns over national security, there was more than a hint of irony when it was prepared to pawn off its energy security in Pakistan’s routinely hostile hands.
And as soon as Pakistan confirmed that India really wanted the pipeline, its in-house macro-economic genius proved just how much it is willing to hold its own economy (and that of India) to ransom to further its pursuit of Kashmir.
“We are ready to allow transit facilities and also foolproof security (to gas pipeline) but India will have to deal with Kashmir issue in an equitable and peaceful manner through meaningful talks so that progress can be made on other areas including gas pipelines,” Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said in an interview published in ‘Pakistan Observer’ today.Aziz said gas pipelines from Turkmenistan, Iran and Qatar have to go through Pakistan into India.
“Fact remains that India for its economic sustainability, direly needs these gas pipelines,” he said.
Aziz said that his “government is mindful of the stark reality that people of the subcontinent are hostage to Kashmir issue.
“South Asia needs economic and social growth. We need to eliminate poverty, disease and evil of extremism from this region. And this cannot happen unless the two nuclear neighbours resolve Kashmir dispute”. [HT]
It is not a hawkish general or a wild-eyed jihadi who is linking the security of the pipeline to India yielding on Kashmir – it is Shaukat Aziz himself, blowing the myth that Pakistan’s newest Prime Minister, a technocrat to boot, will shift the focus from thorny foreign policy issues to pragmatic bread-and-butter issues.
India should disabuse Pakistan of entertaining any notions that suggest that it is in any way able to hold India’s ‘economic sustainability’ to ransom – for if any economy is hostage to the Kashmir issue, it is Pakistan’s.
Related Link: Niraj argues that regardless of whether this is a genuine threat or mere bluster, it is a wake-up call for the pipelines’ advocates.