Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
Pakistan is already under intense pressure from the United States and India to crack down on militant groups inside its borders. Now Iran has added its own pressure after 25 people were killed last week in the bombing of a Shi’ite mosque in Zahedan, in the southeast of the country towards the Pakistan border.
According to the Tehran Times, the Iranian foreign ministry summoned Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran to protest about the bombing, which it blamed on militants on Pakistan’s side of the border.
Pakistani newspaper The News International quoted diplomatic sources in Islamabad as saying the future of a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan could be jeopardised because of Tehran’s anger at what it saw as Pakistan’s failure to crack down on Sunni militants targeting Iran. It said Iran believed the mosque bombing could have been averted if Pakistan had acted on information provided by Iranian intelligence.
Dawn newspaper said Iran had partially shut its border with Pakistan, leading to a suspension of trade and causing hardship to the people in the area, in the restive Pakistani province of Baluchistan.
Among the more daring recommendations in a new report by the Pakistan Policy Working Group, a bipartisan group of American experts on U.S.-Pakistan relations, is that the United States should eventually reconsider its opposition to a proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project.
The suggestion, aimed at building peace between India and Pakistan, is well hedged. The report says it does not expect the long-delayed project to happen any time soon because of instability in Pakistan and U.S. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. But it is one that could ultimately be very significant not just for Pakistan, but also for Iran and India. As this Reuters story says, Iran sees energy-hungry India as one of the most promising markets for its huge natural gas reserves.