THE Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline is moving ahead despite all the opposition to it. On Friday a sovereign guarantee for the pipeline was formally signed in Islamabad, as well as the Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement between the two countries. This means that the pipeline, which will start in Asalooyeh in south Iran, will go ahead without India, which was originally scheduled to be the terminus of the pipeline, and the main customer for the gas. However, it has backed out under American pressure, as well as blandishments, which include the so-called civilian nuclear deal it made with the USA. The USA, to prevent the gas deal with Iran, has told Pakistan that it will look after its energy needs, but has done nothing practical. This has left Pakistan, facing a permanent energy shortfall, with no option but to pursue the Iranian gas deal. With the project to start with a 900-km pipeline between Asalooyeh and Iranshehr near the Pakistan border, it is scheduled for completion in four years, but the Iranians have assured Pakistani Petroleum Minister Syed Naveed Qamar that they will complete it in two and a half to three years, ahead of schedule. However, even if the project comes online on schedule, it will still mean Pakistans present electricity shortage will be considerably eased, as Iranian gas goes to fuel turbines that would otherwise need fuel. The Iranian gas would go to the electricity sector, and thus local gas production would go for domestic use. The Petroleum Ministry sees considerable savings resulting from this, when compared with other projects, and thus the project is viable as it is. However, the project is still open to Indias joining, which would only require a pipeline to Pakistan, to connect India to the pipeline. Assuming India got permission from the USA, it would have to make a transit payment agreement with Pakistan, in addition to an agreement with Iran on the price of the gas. It should be kept in mind, that while this project may well keep power projects operating, it does not add to the generation capacity of the country. For that, there is no substitute for large dams, such as the Kalabagh Dam project, which includes a large power generation capacity along with a large water storage. It would be criminal neglect if Pakistan was to leave unexploited any of its hydro-electric capacity, and India, which has tried to sabotage the gas pipeline project, is already using this Pakistani neglect to claim excessive use along the Indus, in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty. In the process, Iran should also learn how unreliable India is.