I thought your cover story on the Iran-pakistan Gas Pipeline project was very timely and informa- tive. Like many Pakistanis, I too was highly disgruntled by Ambassador Munter’s dictation over affairs that are deemed Pakistan’s sovereign and national concerns. The IP Gas Pipeline project is in the best interests of our country and will provide unobstructed gas to industries, which currently underperform due to energy shortages. A stronger bilateral relationship between Iran and Pakistan will also enable Pakistan to have a dominating and more vocal stance with relation to its deteriorating relationship with the U.S. The U.S is steadily pushing for the TAPI project, since that will allow it to not only be involved but also monitor and control the gas that reaches Pakistan. An alternate option with Iran however, will bypass this obstacle. It is time for Pakistan to bravely make decisions not to please its allies but rather to deliver to its people.
Irfan Nadeem Karachi, Pakistan
2. The Iran-pakistan gas pipeline project is a suicidal mission for Pakistan, which currently finds itself in the midst of numerous national crises and cannot afford to draw more international pressure. While patriotism is admirable, it is undeniable that Pakistan now needs the support of the U.S, more than ever, to establish a stable and peaceful society. The decision to build a pipeline with Iran can have severe consequences for Pakistan. The TAPI pipeline, though complicated, is a better alternative because it is internationally acceptable and will benefit the country. Iran already has numerous sanctions placed on it and is increasingly isolated by the political economy. Constant unrest and instability in Iran also does not guarantee that Pakistan’s gas supplies with be smooth sailing once the pipeline is developed. Internationally, Pakistan is bound have sanctions placed against it. This is no more evident than in the serious threats from senior level U.S personnel that the country has already received. While ‘dictation’ is never pleasant, Pakistan must tread with caution on this particular subject and must seriously consider the consequences of its actions. With little to gain from the pipeline project, a natural resource alliance with Iran will ultimately cost Pakistan dearly.
Omar Bashir Islamabad, Pakistan
It is highly unlikely that a re-run of the ‘Arab Spring’ will occur in South Asia. The reason is simple. Ethnic differences deeply divide this region and for the most part, fail to converge. Furthermore, the Arab Spring was in essence a movement by the people to restore their freedom of choice and usher in an era of democracy in countries previously functioning under military and autocratic regimes. South Asia is markedly different from this scenario. Most countries in the region already have democracy, either in practice or symbolically. Freedom of speech and choice is largely prevalent and most are preoccupied with pressing problems of corruption, poverty and the all-encompassing en- ergy crisis that plagues the region. An overnight revolution might not be the answer and maybe a complete restructuring of the politi- cal system is too far-fetched an idea. If anything, most people in South Asia want change and change needs to come within the top brass of the political system already in place. South Asia needs an evolutionary change. An overnight revolution will only throw this fragile region into continued distress and chaos.
Shreya Ghoshal Dhaka, Bangladesh
The Great Game
As stated in your article titled, ‘Reason to Fret,’ it would be worthwhile for the U.S. to consider China as a partner in South East Asia rather than a rival. As the U.S embarks in increased engagement with Myanmar, be it the country’s civilian government or its Nobel laureate, it must remember that the biggest player in the region is after all China. Myanmar is certainly looking to diversify its foreign relations and while that is opportunistic for the country, regional dynamics could however be at stake. The U.S has always felt threatened by China and this is undoubtedly a move to establish a sphere of influence. China, on the other hand, has invested heavily in infrastructure and energy projects in and