The gas pipeline from Iran took another jump ahead, as the Pakistani Ministry of gas and Natural Resources issued on Friday the notification of the construction and commissioning tender for the project. The project, according to the bid documents, is for a pipeline to transport high-end natural gas from an off-take point near the port city of Gwadar to a gas integration point near Nawabshah. Iran has offered $500 million to build the project, which is a sizeable portion of the estimated cost of $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion. This is a project which the USA opposes strongly, due its objections to Iran's nuclear programme. It has persuaded India to pull out, even giving it a civilian nuclear deal as a sweetener, and looks on Pakistan to follow suit. Pakistan cannot afford to ignore its national interests, because the energy shortage it faces has meant that industry has not been operating, and people have been thrown out of work. It has been resisting and will continue to resist external pressure, and ensure the completion of the project, which according to interstate gas systems is scheduled for completion in December 2016.
The opponents of the project must have seen by now that the withdrawal of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has not affected the financing of the project, which Pakistan must concentrate on completing not just in time, but early, so that the supply of gas can begin as soon as possible. This is not merely an energy project for Pakistan, but also a way to reduce some of the effects on the shortage on the economy. It is also worth noting that the relationship between the two countries will not be limited to the gas pipeline, but is also set to extend to crude oil, with Iran and Pakistan due to hold negotiations on the supply of 70,000-80,000 barrels per day from Iran to Pakistan. This will extend the relationship to another aspect of hydrocarbon dynamics, which will mean that Pakistan will rely on Iran not just for gas , but also for some of its liquid needs as well. Pakistan should also add lifting US objections to the project to the Nato supply reopening negotiations. Pakistan must convey to its other interlocutors that the gas pipeline is important to its survival and it will concede to pressure against it.