Leaders of Pakistan and Iran jointly inaugurated a marketplace and a power transmission line along their shared border on May 18 in a significant move aimed at boosting regional trade and energy cooperation.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi also addressed a ceremony in a live broadcast from the Iranian side of the more than 900-kilometer border between the two countries.
Border Market: Located in the remote village of Pashin in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, the marketplace is the first of six to be constructed along the Pakistan-Iran border under a 2012 agreement signed by the two sides. The border market is set up on 10 acres (4 hectares) of land.
PM Sharif said he had held a formal meeting with Raisi on the sidelines of the inauguration. The two discussed ways to strengthen border security cooperation and boost trade.
In September 2020, former Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the establishment of 18 markets, six along the Iranian border and 12 along the Afghan border.
Power project: The transmission line would export 100 megawatts of Iranian electricity to Pakistan’s border province of Baluchistan and meet the energy needs of Balochistan’s households and businesses. The impoverished, natural resources-rich region already imports 100 megawatts of low-cost power from Iran via the 132 KV Makran Division electricity transmission line.
Raisi said the project would pave the way for Tehran and Islamabad to expand their economic and energy exchanges. “We are fully prepared to further deepen our relations with our neighboring country Pakistan in the energy sector,” the Iranian president said.
Gas pipeline: Pakistan and Iran signed an agreement in 1990 to build a nearly 2,700-kilometer gas pipeline to export Iranian gas to the energy-deficient South Asian neighboring country. But the project was never completed mainly due to U.S. sanctions.
Iranian officials say they have finished construction of the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline on their side of the border and are waiting for Pakistan to complete its part, saying a lack of progress by next year would authorize Tehran to demand financial penalties.
Pakistan’s Public Accounts Committee has also expressed fears that the country would have to pay a staggering amount of $18 billion in penalties if Pakistan did not go ahead with the gas pipeline project.