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Economic and Geo-Political concerns over pipeline project...
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:30 pm    Post subject: Economic and Geo-Political concerns over pipeline project... Reply with quote

Attempts to convince Pakistan that it is in its best interests to forego plans to construct the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline have thus far failed. Pakistani officials insist that abandoning the project would present "serious negative consequences for Pakistan," as that nation grows desperate to curtail civil unrest inspired in part by a contracting economy, inflation and an energy crisis brought on by electricity and gas shortages. An alternative plan calls for the construction of the (TAPI) pipeline from Turkmenistan but Pakistani officials point to the violence and political instability in Afghanistan as their reason for not pursuing that project. Pakistan and Iran signed a Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) in June 2009, a move the Pakistani government claim would provide the cheapest and most suitable fuel for power generation while simultaneously alleviating socio-economic concerns in regard to its citizens living in under developed areas such as Balochistan and Sindh. To date Iran has already layed more than 900 kilometers of 56" pipe between Assaluyeh and Iran Shehr. Their are approximately 200 kilometers of pipeline work that needs to be completed before the project reaches the Pakistani border. Estimates place the completion of this work as sometime in 2014.

The Pakistani regime finds itself between a political rock and economic hard place as it struggles to deal with brewing internal unrest and the difficult decision in regard to meeting its energy needs in the face of staunch external opposition from the U.S. This coming on the heels of India's announced cotton export band, a problem that is sure to increase the economic pressures faced by the Pakistani regime. It is difficult to say which way they turn as Russia stands in the background having already offered technical support to complete the project in addition to a recent commitment of $500 million for the upgrading of Pakistan Steel Mills. Russian involvement in Pakistan presents an interesting scenario as both countries struggle to demonstrate a true and lasting commitment to modern economic practices. Recent editorial commentary from a Pakistani source has called into question a proposed program designed to "put a check on 'the' drug-trafficking..." that Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan are facing.


The answer to the "significant threat... illicit narcotic drugs transiting from Afghanistan..." present is The Central Asia Counter-narcotics initiative (CACI). The purpose of the program is to promote regional cooperation in countering drug trafficking through the establishment of task forces in all five Central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan "Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan." As the U.S., expressed its commitment to continue bilateral consultations with the Central Asian states, Russia expressed apprehensions to its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to avoid co-operation and participation in the (CACI) program. Russia is convinced that the main objective of (CACI) is to strengthen U.S., military and political influence in a region the Russian view as falling under the sphere of influence. A number of Russian cold war leaders have expressed their belief that the U.S., is partially responsible for the booming trade in Afghan heroin that supplies an estimated $6 million Russians. The situation bares watching as the implications for all remain uncertain.

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