The US and Pakistan will be talking about co-operating on energy this week in
Washington with Pakistan expected to demand a nuclear deal along the lines of
the civilian deal and the US saying that the needs of the sub-continent nations
are different. Delegation members led by Pakistan Energy Advisor Mukhtar Ahmed
will meet private sector energy companies and also visit “relevant” US
laboratories and facilities.
This line of discussion was first announced by US President George Bush during
his visit to Islamabad in March. At that time, he refused nuclear parity in
sub-continent saying that India and Pakistan were “two different countries with
different needs and different histories.”
Pakistan also reiterated that there was no conflict between Pakistan's
proposed energy co-operation with the U.S. and its commitment to the
Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline. President Pervez Musharraf said “We would
not like to compromise on our national interest because some other country's
strategic interests are clashing with Pakistan's interests.” Without naming the
US, he said if another country wanted to stop Pakistan from participating in
the IPI project, it "should assist us in some form to bridge this (energy gap),
assist financially because we would not like to incur loss to our industry.” An
Iranian Minister was recently quotes asserting that Iran was “not desperate” to
sell gas to India and Pakistan at discounted rates to offset domestic gas
subsidies in both countries. Musharraf, who said his country was trying to
expedite the project, criticized such grandstanding as “un-diplomatic.” He
claimed that Pakistan did not expect Iran to subsidize gas, but asserted that
he did not want “to allow Iran to fleece” his nation.
Musharraf spoke Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and both set a deadline
of two-months to close on fixing the price of gas for the project. In typical
Musharraf style, he said that “If the Ministers and Secretaries are unable to
reach an agreement on pricing formula, he and I will talk about it and try to
resolve the dispute between ourselves.” At the least, it pointed to differences
between nations on prices. At the most, it pointed to the need for political
intervention to resolve fundamental issues.
Analysts think that Pakistan is using the IPI as negotiating tool to gain
parity with the US.