The two men were attending a ceremony to launch construction, on the Pakistani side, of a new pipeline that will funnel natural gas from Iran‘s South Pars field in the Gulf to energy-starved Pakistani businesses, car drivers and consumers from the end of 2014.
For the smiling Ahmadinejad, the £5bn pipeline serves several key purposes. It will produce hard currency for Iran’s hard-pressed economy. It goes some way to mitigating historical suspicions that have separated Shia Iran and predominantly Sunni Muslim Pakistan. It boosts Tehran’s regional influence.
But more than that, the pipeline will help break the sanctions stranglehold on Iran’s energy sector imposed by the US and western allies concerned about Tehran’s nuclear-related activities.