Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will arrive in Islamabad today for the first official contact between the two neighbours since the election of Imran Khan in Pakistan.
PM Khan signalled an intention to improve ties with Iran while maintaining their traditional relationship with Saudi Arabia.
A key barometer is whether Pakistan will complete the long-stalled Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline—a project first initiated in 1995. The $7.5 billion project, touted as delivering 21.5 million cubic metres of gas to energy-starved Pakistan, has been opposed by the US for years as part of Washington’s opposition to the Islamic regime’s nuclear programme.
Mr Zarif is likely to be keen on re-starting the project, as it will provide much-needed income to an Iranian economy under siege from US sanctions. Pakistan’s delays, including two failed attempts at Chinese funding in 2012 and 2016, has not helped power shortages. By 2020, demand is expected to outstrip supply by 4:1.
PM Khan has supported the revival of the project in the past as an opposition leader. Any attempt to restart will likely depend on Chinese funding and whether he can withstand likely US penalties for importing Iranian gas.
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John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.