Pakistan Iran not on best of terms
Iran has had major issues with Pakistan, its eastern neighbour, ranging from cross-border terrorism to economic and border issues. Though Iran has been persistent towards the resolution of all major issues, its efforts to bolster its ties with Pakistan have come to nought due to political and economic chaos in the country.
The Pakistan Military Monitor reported, that Iran has been making key diplomatic and military overtures towards Pakistan since 2021. However Pakistan has been drifting apart from Iran as Tehran is mending its ties with the Sunni world,
Tehran has always shown a more mature approach while Pakistan’s approach has always been that of an unreliable neighbour. Pakistan continues to blame Iran for cross-border terrorism and smuggling. However, Tehran has suffered more due to cross-border attacks, attacks on Shias in Pakistan and an illegal human trafficking network operating in Pakistan, The Pakistan Military Monitor reported.
The Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project demonstrates the meltdown in bilateral ties. The gas pipeline project was formally signed by the Presidents of Iran and Pakistan in 2009. The Iranian NIOC and the Pakistan ISGS were the nominated entities to execute the project and both of them signed the Gas Purchase and Sales Agreement (GSPA), The Pakistan Military Monitor reported.
Iran was required to build a pipeline from Assaluyeh till its border with Pakistan, spanning nearly 1,200 kilometres. Meanwhile, Pakistan was required to build the pipeline within its territory, from the Makran coast to Nawabshah which was just 750 kilometres. However, Pakistan until 2012 had not even acquired land for constructing the pipeline, as per the news report.
Tired of Pakistan’s double dealings, Iran’s National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) served a “Seller Termination Notice” and “Material Breach Notice” to Pakistan in 2019, as per the news report. After Pakistan’s continuous requests, Iran again agreed to amendments in Gas Purchase and Sales Agreement while withdrawing its Material Breach notice. The new agreement was signed on September 5, 2019, which included a clause of extending the limitation period for claims to five years.
Pakistan has not been making efforts on implementation of the project with the extended period nearing in March 2024. On the other hand, it appears keen to showcase Iran as the culprit while it is busy attempting to engage with French legal counsels to fight a legal battle, as per the news report. Iran, on its part, has invested approximately USD 2 billion in the project and already completed 900 km of the pipeline portion.
On Iran’s insistence, Pakistan blamed the US for sanctions on Iran which resulted in banks refusing to invest in the project. In December 2012, Iran offered financial assistance for the project. However, Pakistan’s double-faced approach resulted in the failure of the cooperation between two sides. Pakistan blamed Iran for the failure of the agreement, The Pakistan Military Monitor reported.
Pakistan leaders, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, have been engaging with Iranian leaders. However, the efforts are more towards circumventing the issue and expressing helplessness instead of resolving them. In such a scenario, Tehran has no other option other than to put legal penalties on Pakistan, as per the news report.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Intransigence on the High Seas has irked Iran no end. Pakistan naval ships and maritime vessels in recent years have been showcasing aggressive behaviour particularly while dealing with Iranian fishing boats. In a recent case, one Iranian fishing boat was forcefully stopped by Pakistan’s PMSS Hingol at the Gulf of Oman under the pretext of inspection, The Pakistan Military Monitor reported.
According to the report, Pakistan’s naval personnel harassed and intimidated the fishermen subjecting them to inhuman treatment. The fishing vessel was also deliberately damaged by the Pakistan Navy, as per the news report.
Iran was angered by the incident and Pakistan’s Naval Attache to Iran Captain Rashid Khurram was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Office. The errant behaviour by Pakistan has caused a slow but inevitable drift with Iran, the report went further.