IMPLICATIONS FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION, FOREIGN POLICY, AND REGIONALISM
The exportation of natural gas from Iran to India through Pakistan is a venture which may change the face of regional politics in South Asia. It is a study in how economic collaboration possesses the power to engender as well as transform social and political discourse between countries. The Indian government speculated whether Pakistan could guarantee security for the flow of natural gas in the pipeline. Furthermore, Pakistan’s collaboration with Iran may foster conflict resolution as well. In the past, Iranian and Pakistani foreign policies have disagreed on the issues of Afghanistan and Shi’a-Sunni conflicts in the region. Thus, trade and the larger experience of economic globalization posesses the ability to exist as mediators in conflicts in the region and between regions.
Natural gas trade between India, Iran, and Pakistan challenges the geopolitical, historical, and strategic realities of the three countries and the general regions of the Mideast and Asia. In this way, the relationship between the pipeline venture and globalization is multidisciplinary. It is not characterized solely by economic factors, even though the current economic realities in Iran, India, and Pakistan do foreshadow the future necessity of economic collaboration. The realities of this case study are representative of the notion that multidisciplinary globalization is changing the face of regional politics and altering the social and political landscape of regions.
NEGOTIATING THE PIPELINE
Holding approximately 9 percent of the world’s total reserves, Iran is OPEC’s second largest producer of oil (Iran Background Information). Along with oil reserves, Iran contains the world’s second largest natural gas reserves “at an estimated 812 trillion cubic feet (Tcf)” (Ibid). While Iranian natural gas consumption is high, the country desperately needs to promote export markets for gas due to its faltering economy and to meet the demands of modernization. To meet these demands, Iran has targeted emerging regional markets like South Asia for natural gas exports.
Iran has proposed the export of natural gas from Iran to India since 1993. Alongside this proposal was the plan to export natural gas to Pakistan as well. The Iranian government proposed the construction of a pipeline from its South Pars fields in the Persian Gulf to Pakistan’s major cities of Karachi and Multan and then further onto Delhi, India.
The following map shows the pipeline’s main route. Starting from the left side of the map, the pipeline originates in Asaluyeh, Iran on the coast of the Persian Gulf near the Iranian South Pars fields. It travels to Pakistan through Khuzdar, with one section of it going on to Karachi on the Arabian Sea coast, and the main section traveling on to Multan, Pakistan. From Multan, the pipeline travels to Delhi, where it ends. At this point, India is free to consider and negotiate further domestic routing of the pipeline.