One wonders why certain elements from Pakistani establishment are opposing this deal, and what made Nawaz Sharif to stick with the deal?
Qatar-Pakistan gas deal was finalized by the then Energy Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, on the bidding of the then Prime minister Nawaz Sharif, a year ago. Since then Nawaz Sharif has been facing a graft trial that he says is a part to of establishment's efforts to harm his political career.
This tension between certain powerful elements in the establishment and Nawaz Sharif has its roots in the tension between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It is quite clear why certain elements in Pakistani establishment are opposing the gas deal. Saudi Arabia has an avowed policy to stop Qatar from developing its gas fields! Any deal between two countries that allows Qatar to develop a gas pipeline and market its gas in the world is detrimental to the cause of Saudi Arabia.
Last year Saudi Arabia hired the out going Pakistani army chief , General Raheel Sharif, as the chief of its 41 country military alliance against terrorism. The formation of this alliance has been opposed by both Iran and Qatar, who think that the alliance is against their national interests. General Raheel Sharif still wields a great influence and power in Pakistan, though he is not as powerful as the current army chief General Javed Qamar Bajwa, who doesn't want to do any kind of undemocratic action despite the pressure from the anti Nawaz elements in Pakistan.
Why Nawaz Sharif is pursuing Pakistan Qatar gas deal? Before answering this question let us see what has he done to protect the deal. When Nawaz Sharif was ousted from the position of Premiership by a court decree a few months ago, the natural choice for the next Prime Minister was his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif. However, instead of giving his younger brother a chance to be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif selected his Energy Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the new PM. The reason is obvious! Nawaz Sharif didn't want to harm the gas deal with Qatar.
This selection of Shahid Khaqan Abbassi caused a rift between him and his brother, though the two have never publicly admitted that there is any discord in the family. However, this rift becomes manifest in certain actions taken by Shahbaz Sharif the younger brother of the EX-PM.
First of all, there is a wide held opinion in Pakistan that the current Brelvi Dherna , or the Islamist sit-in in Islamabad was actually initiated due to a demand made by Shahbaz Sharif. It was Shahbaz Sharif who first demanded that the Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid should be sacked. Mr. Zahid Hamid , according to the fundamentalists in Pakistan, was responsible for getting through an allegedly anti-Islamic law.
There are other pointers towards the rift too, and Shahbaz is not alone in the power struggle against his own brother. He is probably supported by the son in law of Nawaz Sharif Ex-Captain Safdar, and his close aide Choudhry Nisar.
The role of the present army chief in this conflict between pro Saudi Arabia, and Pro Qatari forces is of a silent observer, for he can't do much to quell the conflict. In a famous speech, a few months ago, General Bajwa uttered the new policy of the establishment of Pakistan. The new policy connects security of the country to economic strength.
According to General Bajwa Pakistan's security largely depends on its economic strength for often times Pakistan has to surrender its freedom to decide on its policy to its economic dependence on other countries and power. Pakistan's foreign reserves mostly come from countries like USA, Saudi Arabia, UK, UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait. These countries wield a great influence on the policy matters of Pakistan, and Pakistan cannot go against these powers openly to pursue its own national interest.
Pakistan right now is stuck in a war between Qatar and Iran on one side, and Saudi Arabia and its gulf and Western allies on the other. Pakistan starves for gas, but its powerful mentors didn't allow it to get gas from Iran. Pakistan shelved Pak Iran gas pipeline after objections from the other block. Pakistan cannot get gas from Central Asian countries because of the volatile situation in Afghanistan. The only way Pakistan could get gas was through a Pak Qatar gas pipeline, and even that has become problematic now. For, if the present government is toppled, the new government would shelve the deal.
On the one hand Pakistan's ruling political party has close ties with Qatar, and on the other hand its powerful ex-general Raheel Sharif is commanding a Saudi alliance against Iran and Qatar. This is an obvious conflict of interest, resulting in a conflict between certain powerful elements of Pakistan's deep state and political powers.
Despite the fact that Pakistan badly needs energy, there are certain probable reasons why Nawaz Sharif supports Qatar dea. One reason why Nawaz Sharif supports Qatar deal is probably because a Qatari prince testified in his favor in the court to acquit him from corruption charges. Nawaz Sharif is facing graft trials since last year. The other reason why he favors Qatar deal is basically summed up in an allegetaion made against him by British Petroleum CEO Mike Dudley. According to Mike Dudley, Nawaz Sharif's elder son, who lives in London, accepted $300 Millions in bribe from Qatar to finalize Pak Qatar gas deal. Mike Dudley said this in his interview with BBC.
The present Islamist sit in in Pakistan is a manifestation of Qatar Saudi Arab conflict. The sit in was probably supported by those elements in Pakistan's deep state who oppose Qatar Pakistan relations and support the Saudi alliance. The purpose was to oust the government , or to surrender it into shelving the gas deal. The sit in received support from certain factions inside the ruling political party.
The reason why the sit in didn't succeed in achieving its purpose was an intervention by the powerful army of Pakistan. For the sit in, and a police action to end the sit in, caused a potentially threatening reaction in Pakistan that could easily have stepped into civil war. Pakistan army realized the urgency of the situation, and after the eruption of riots, Pakistan's army chief General Bajwa cut his UAE tour short and flew back to Pakistan to resolve the before it could cross the threshold of a civil war.
The irony is, the poor people of Pakistan know nothing about these underlying realities and believe that the it was religious controversy.