Ed­i­tor’s Mail

Southasia - - CONTENTS -

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

Slim Chance

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

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