The diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Iran remain cordial at best, despite widespread consensus among the Pakistani government that they should be improved. Our actions often undercut that sentiment; constant support to the Kingdom of the Saud, the formation of a military alliance isolating Iran, and friction along the Balochistan border are just few of the problems.

However initiatives to bring the two countries together are just as prevalent, the most notable being the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline. The pipeline was going to help in establishing bilateral relations based on cooperation and act as the binding force in times of crisis. However, there has been a lag from the Pakistani side in the construction of the pipeline – leading to the Iranian Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh announcing that his country will begin legal proceedings against Pakistan

While one can consider the argument that the Pakistani political scene has been in crisis for a long time, first due to the rigging allegations and then the ousting of the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif; this case still does not justify why a sitting government was not able to work on an initiative that they signed up for. With the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in its materialisation phase, another project like the Pak-Iran gas pipeline would give the Pakistani economy the required boost.

Fear of international sanctions and the opposition of the United States of America (USA) along with other allies is also another aspect to consider. However, relations with USA have been deteriorating since President Trump came into power. This cleavage in the relations should give Pakistan the space to adopt its plans without the fear of America’s opposition. This is the right time for the policy makers to chalk out an effective plan and push for the construction from the Pakistani side.

The Iranian decision is going to cost Pakistan; it has often been on the wrong end of commercial arbitration cases in the past, and the price – millions in damages – is too steep to pay for a country already burdened with debt. Furthermore, breaches of contracts do not help in improving the image of a country which is already the target of diplomatic isolation. Pakistan cannot afford to lose any potential allies at this point and Iran should certainly not be one of them. Encircled by unfriendly nations, Pakistan needs to ensure Iran does not join their ranks.