Iran, becoming more isolated appeals to Pakistan to move ahead with natural gas “peace pipeline.” Saboteurs have already had their say in the idea. Image via BSO-NA
As Iran becomes more marginalized with US-backed sanctions, Iran seeks to conduct business with more hospitable partners, like Pakistan. Every year floods devastate Pakistan, this year with a momentous 6 million displaced. Lack of regular power, according to Natasha Paracha (Miss Pakistan 2008), is a top 3 problem in Pakistan, along with food insecurity, and the diseases and troubles that flood waters carry with it. But as past US President Clinton seeks to repair US-Pakistan relations Pakistan could be doing itself a disservice by looking to Iran to furnish its energy needs via an Iran-Pak gas pipeline.
According to the Pakistan Daily Times, Mashallah Shakari, the Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan, has said the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline could bring an bring industrial revolution to Pakistan.
Two weeks ago, he said so at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, commenting that such a pipeline would create “a peaceful atmosphere in the region” and it would improve tourism and economy of both the nations. Iran has already laid down a part of the pipeline, and he implored Pakistani businessman to look to strengthening economic cooperation between Iran and Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Iranian Big Brother?
He said exchange of business delegations could pave the way for exploring areas of common interest. Iran would provide technical and all other kinds of assistance to Pakistan to overcome energy crisis.
He said Ummah should be united to overcome the challenges of world powers. There were centuries-old civilisation, historical and cultural relations between Pakistan and Iran, both countries should enhance further cooperation in trade, industry and other sectors.
He expressed hope industrial exchange program would help promote trade relations. He said Iran was willing to import rice, meat, fruits and many other items from Pakistan, adding, Iran and Punjab government were going to set up slaughterhouses in Lahore.
He also said that Iran would help Pakistan with solar energy, and hydro-electrical projects, and that the two could launch joint projects in coal and dairy.
Pakistan and Iran currently manage a bilateral trade at about $1 billion. Iran already sells oil and electricity to Pakistan, and Pakistan could earn transit revenue if the pipeline continues to China.
Here is a 2010 video on the pipeline project from Al Jazeera on the pipeline:
Originally it was the proposed Iran–Pakistan–India gas pipeline, known also as the IPI pipeline or the Peace pipeline, which would ship natural gas from Iran via India, and then to Pakistan. Since June this year Iran has given up talks with India and is appealing directly to Pakistan to broker a deal.
India pulled out over security concerns, thinking it would be vulnerable to sabotage. The US also put political pressure on India not to participate.
With such “peaceful” pipelines blowing up after peace disintegrates in countries like Egypt and Israel, I think that Pakistan might be wiser to develop its own renewable energy projects and to let the unpredictable Iran fend for itself. Oh, and wait the Iran-Pak Peace Pipeline has already been sabotaged, according to UPI today.