Iran And Pakistan On Shaky Ground For New Pipeline
pipeline will be a target. Unless both governments show ability to address Balochi grievances
Iran and Pakistan on shaky ground for new pipeline
Reports about the construction of a 2,000-kilometre pipeline to carry Iranian natural gas to Pakistan have focused largely on US opposition. But the project faces other challenges, particularly from the marginalised Balochi people of who span both countries.
Work on the 780km Pakistani section of the pipeline began on Monday. Meanwhile Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, led a delegation of 300 dignitaries to Iran on the same day to meet his counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a ceremony to mark the project. The high-level official formalities demonstrate the pipeline’s importance both to energy-starved Pakistan and to an increasingly cash-strapped Iran.
The transfer of 750 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from Iran’s South Pars gasfield to Pakistani homes and factories might seem like a win-win situation. Washington disapproves deeply, since the project short-circuits US-led efforts to reduce Iranian oil and gas exports, until Iran modifies its nuclear plans. Pakistan and Iran have the right to sign bilateral energy deals – and the move is certainly popular in Pakistan’s media – but this pipeline enters into dangerous territory.