Islamabad and Tehran on 11 March inaugurated the start of construction of the 800km Pakistani section of the planned 750mn cfd Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline, dubbed the “Peace Pipeline”. The presence of both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, at the inauguration ceremony highlighted the political nature, of what has become the most controversial of energy projects. Iran has already built almost all the 1,050km leg from Assaluyeh to its border with Pakistan. But, the project, which if realized will be transformative for all parties, still faces significant challenges.

Gas pipelines have become the weapon of choice in a 21st version of Great Game. This saw Britain and Russia in the decades leading up to the World War I fight for influence in Central Asia and the sub-continent through a combination of espionage, and proxy conflicts. The modern version pits the US on one hand against Iran and its Great Power allies, Russia and China, on the other. (CONTINUED - 1553 WORDS)