Pakistan's Potential as Regional Energy Corridor
Paper presented at international workshop on Pakistan-Russian Collaboration and the Afghan Crisis, organised by South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) in colaboration with Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University), Islamabad, November 1, 2010.
It is principally because of its unparalleled geo-political and geo-economic significance in South, West and Central Asia that Pakistan is qualified to be an energy corridor for regional states and beyond. The war in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s rivalry with India and tension in US-Iranian ties can be cited as three major factors that have so far impeded the emergence of such energy corridor. However, this does not mean that serious attempts to fully harness Pakistan’s unique regional status are not being made. In fact, noticeable progress for the purpose has been achieved on three different fronts in recent years. In 2010 alone, a final framework agreement on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project was concluded by the four countries, and Iran and Pakistan finalized the details of their own gas pipeline project. The Gwadar port is a testament of Pakistan’s potential as a Trade and Energy Corridor for China, with so many proposals to use it for meeting China’s future energy needs currently in pipeline. Pakistan, thus, remains at the center of energy-centric geo-economic activity in the region, which has enormous potential for enriching the regional states, big or small, and enabling their people in billions to live in perpetual peace. Speedier progress on all of these three fronts will help promote regionalism, connecting West Asia with South Asia, Central Asia with South Asia, and South Asia with East Asia. Iran and Central Asian states are looking for regional markets to export their hydrocarbon riches. And energy-starved economies of China and India need oil and gas to achieve sustained level of economic growth. Full Text