Iran deal fuels tussle for gas pipelines in Pakistan
Alandmark deal on Iran’s nuclear programme has breathed new life into plans for a gas pipeline through Pakistan ─ and sparked a geopolitical tussle, with Russia looking to expand its influence, observers say.
With sanctions on Iran likely to ease and peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government getting under way, wrangling is intensifying over the proposed pipelines, which would link Central Asia to the Middle East.
Islamabad has hailed the nuclear deal, struck after long negotiations in Vienna, as reviving a stalled project to pipe gas from Iran’s southern fields to energy-starved Pakistan.
Pakistan is desperate for solutions to a long-running power crisis that has sapped economic growth and left the country’s 200 million inhabitants fuming over incessant electricity cuts.
The $7.5-billion Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline was inaugurated with great fanfare in March 2013 ─ but the project immediately hit quicksand in the form of international sanctions on Tehran, which meant cash-strapped Pakistan struggled to raise the money to build its side.
Pakistan Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the Vienna deal should allow Islamabad to make good on its