Friday, May 29, 2009

Complexities in the Iran-Pakistan pipeline deal.

Bruce Pannier [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] provides further information on the recently announced pipeline deal between Iran and Pakistan [What Are The Prospects For Iran-Pakistan 'Pipeline Of Peace'?, May 25, 09].

Deals for infrastructural development like this are important because they establish new long term mutual relationships and effectively reduce the cost of, in this case, the transport and accessibility of a good that is vital to the maintenance of a modern society. They indicate practical arrangements that become possible only in certain friendly contexts and that can establish a mutual dependence that in the long run will be costly to disrupt. So we see this announced deal as evidence of a willingness to become mutually more interdependent, thus tightening relations of mutual interest in the Middle East-South Asian region. It’s one more way of making the world smaller and vital goods (gas for Pakistan; money for Iran) more accessible to wider numbers of people.

But in this case, as in most such arrangements, there are serious issues yet to resolve. Here are some details of importance that are mentioned in the article:
• This is a 25-year deal that could export some 150 million cubic meters of gas to Pakistan per day.
• The pipeline would extend 2,100 kilometers from Iran’s South Pars field into Pakistan, starting in the city of Asalouyeh. Even though India is not a part of this deal it is hoped that an agreement could be made for the pipeline to be extended into India, another 600 kilometers.
• One of the main problems is how to fund the project. The Asian Development Bank has shown no interest in supporting this project even though it is willing to back the rival gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan.
• That Iran and Pakistan abut each other in Baluchistan means that the new pipeline will have to pass through an unstable region, as Baluch nationalists who want more autonomy have already disrupted Pakistan’s only local gas pipeline.
• The project could start within the next three or four years and take five years to build.

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