A Bombing in an Iranian Mosque and the Future of Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project

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Context

The circle is complete; all the neighbors of Pakistan with the sole exception of China, now claim that Pakistan based extremist groups are involved in destabilizing their countries. The latest warning came from Iran, and this is happening after the signing of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline deal last month.

Iran has blamed the Americans and the Iranian Sunni Baluchi insurgent group – Jundullah, for the May 29th bombing of a Shiite mosque in Zahedan. About 30 people are believed to have died in the attack. Jundullah is active in Baluchistan province of Pakistan and Sistan-Baluchistan part of Iran, with possible links to Taliban and other extremists. The group claims to be fighting for the rights of Sunni’s in Iran.

Iran declared yesterday that if Pakistan does not act against Jundullah, it has the means and capability to do so on its own. This warning is similar to the one usually delivered to Pakistan by India. There is a difference though; unlike Afghanistan and India, Iran is already on the bad list of many Western powers.

In other words, there are many powers that would like to destabilize Iran, to distract it from not only its nuclear ambitions but diminish its influence in the Middle East. There is no better way to do that than by creating problems in Iran’s own back yard. For Pakistan, the situation represents a nightmare when three of its neighbors are threatening to directly interfere with in the country, while US continues the drone attacks in FATA. Pakistan has become a conduit which funnels many foreign interests.

In the above context, the Iranian message is clear. If Pakistan desires to keep the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project going, it will have to burn some bridges with the Saudi’s and the United States. India has for the time being decided to stay away from the project while China stands ready to join. The Russian energy company Gazprom has excitingly offered to help build the infrastructure. It appears presently that the Iran-Pakistan pipeline is still many powers moves away from implementation.