Syeda Rabbab Zahra
THE Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline , also known as Peace pipeline , is a proposed pipeline to deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan. It passes through Bandar-Abbas, Iranshahr, Khuzdar, Sui and Multan. In Khuzdar a branch would spur off to Karachi. From Multan the pipeline may be expanded to Delhi.
The idea was first considered by a young civil engineer in mid 1950s, when his article named as “Persian Pipeline” was published by Military College of Engineering, Risalpur. His name was Malik Ahmed Khan. He was Lt.Col in Pakistan Army, retired in 1976 and died in 1999 at the age of 70 years. In his article “Persian Pipeline”, he also mentioned the methods for its protection along hostile territory by establishing mini battalion size cantonments along its proposed route through Baluchistan/ Sindh.
Now what are the benefits or perspectives of IP gas pipeline for both countries? Few important perspectives of IP gas pipeline are: The Project is planned to be financed on Public Private Partnership basis. In order to help in overcoming the power shortage crisis, the project will support around 4,000 MW power generation capacity.
The construction of pipeline will also create job opportunities in backward areas of Pakistan especially in Balochistan and Sindh. Iran’s clearly concern is further building of the pipeline into other countries. Pakistan as well interested in additional income due to gas transit.
There is a possible variant is continuing the gas pipeline to China. Tehran invited Russia gas monopolist “Gazprom” to build a pipeline into Pakistan and “Gazprom” claimed its readiness to join the project and function as operator of the pipeline and contractor of the building.
Iran’s next proposal is to build electricity transmission network, connecting electricity grid of Iran with that of Pakistan, India and China. Iran has offered to sell electricity to Pakistan, China and India at subsidised rate.
In present scenario, the round table talks on IP gas pipeline between Iran and Pakistan is going to restart in upcoming days. This will be the first interface between Iran and Pakistan after change of governments. The delegation would discuss or renegotiate on gas prices and construction of IP gas pipeline .
The ongoing situation regarding Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is facing ups and downs. Iran and Pakistan have decided fast track discussion to formulate the road map of pipeline and to start a series of fresh talks. The coming round talks on IP gas pipeline is the continuation of fresh talks. There was a hope IP pipeline proposed project will be completed within a year after Iran’s nuclear deal with US and other Western powers.
Talking in this perspective, Pakistan’s Federal Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said, “Pakistan would find an opportunity to complete the proposed gas pipeline project within a year.” He also said, “I think trade restrictions against Iran would be lifted, following an agreement between Iran and world powers.”
But subsequently President Obama has announced that US has not changed its stance on the IP pipeline .
Pakistan is facing large number of energy crisis. Pakistan has requested to Iranian government to administer the whole financing estimated as $2 billion and in response Iran has committed $500 million to finance the Pakistan’s portion of the pipeline . But present government wants Iran to boost the credit limit.
For Pakistan IP gas pipeline becomes a dilemma because Iranian side of $7.5 billion project is almost completed but no work has yet been started in 780km segment of Pakistan. The situation is if Pakistan’s part of pipeline is not completed by December 2014 then Pakistan must have to pay Iran a $3 million per day as a penalty. This trade also has the potential to change the strategic face of the two countries and even other regions of Asia and the Middle East. It speaks of the mutual trust the two countries share with each other.
The completion of the pipeline is in the interest of peace security and progress of two countries. It will consolidate with the economic, political and security ties of the two nations. If it is completed timely then it would become a panacea .