Pakistan-Iran

Pakistan and Iran are all set to inaugurate the multi-billion dollar IP gas pipeline today. The gas pipeline will be inaugurated by Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Pakistan-Iran border.

Through the Gas pipeline, Pakistan will be able to cater its energy needs, which are increasing by days, at a time when country is also experiencing blackouts and energy shortages. The 1600 kilometre pipeline, which will cost around massive $1.2-1.5 billion, will allow the flow of 21.5 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan on a daily basis.

There are, however, raising concerns over how Pakistan will be able to finance the $1.5 billion fund required to construct the pipeline, and whether the project could be finished smoothly without the US sanctions, which Washington has put in place to exert pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. Iran has stated that it has completed the pipeline of its side, which runs 1,150 kilometres (715 miles) from the Gas fields to the Iran –Pakistan border, where the ceremony is due to be held today. The pipeline in Pakistan segment will be about 780 kilometres (485 miles). Gas is expected to flow by the end of 2014. However, the deadline given seems to be less practical considering the delays in the project.

There has been oppositions from the US, and it has supported the alternative pipeline running from the gas fields of Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and then to India. The US has completed various projects related to electricity generation within Pakistan for helping in the renovation of hydropower dams.

Besides, Washington there are various Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, which are alarmed over Pakistan’s plan with Iran. In order to clarify the intentions of Pakistan, Foreign Minister Hina Rabani Khar held vital meetings with ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the last few days.

According to the sources, the purpose of the meeting called by Khar was to answer the concerns of the nations and convey a message that the energy crisis, which Pakistan is facing, has made it a need of the hour to carry forward this project. In a recent visit to Doha, Khar assured the Qatari authorities that there would be no affect on the Pakistan’s energy cooperation with Qatar due to the IP gas pipeline project.

The talks between Pakistan and Iran to lay gas pipeline began in 1994 for the first time. The two neighbours signed the initial agreement back in 1999.