An article in Friday's Washington Post about Iran's relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan stated erroneously that Pakistan had a common border with the Soviet Union.

Iran, stunned by the pro-Communist coup in Afghanistan, is exerting economic pressure on Pakistan in hopes that its military government will recognize what officials here see as the Kremlin's growing threat to Middle East oil routes.

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, according to informed government sources, has made it clear that further economic aid - to Pakistan normally running at between $200 million and $300 million a year - depends on sparing former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's life.

If Gen. Zia Ul-Haq's military government carries out its threat to execute Bhutto, the sources indicated that Pakistan could be ripe for Soviet-sponsored destablization.

These fears are heightened by the knowledge that historically unruly Baluchi and Pathan tribesmen inside Pakistan are well aware that the central government has severe political and economic problems.

The recent visit of Pakistani dissident leaders to Afghanistan has not calmed Iranian suspicions that the new government Kabul plans to step up traditional Afghan support for the tribes that live in both countries.

Government sources here said Iran was ready to use "any means" to stop such troublemaking by Afghanistan. They recalled the Shah's long standing warning that he would not tolerate further disintegration of Pakistan.

Without actually mentioning military force, the sources recalled the key role Iranian troops played in suppressing the pro-Communist Dhofar rebellion in Oman in the early 1970s.

The coup in Afghanistan and the potential for trouble in Pakistan have long figured in the Shah's nightmare scenario in which Iran is encircled by the Soviet Union.

The first stage of this scenario involved important Soviet influence in Iraq, Iran's neighbor and rival to the west which, unlike Agfhanistan or Pakistan, does not share a common border with the Soviet Union.

The pro-Moscow tilt that officials here see in the traditional buffer state of Afghanistan, the sources recalled, is further fulfillment of a longstanding Russian dream, dating back to czarist days, of achieving access to the warm water parts of the Indian Ocean.

The breakup of Pakistan could also be a direct challenge to Iranian territorial integrity, the sources said, since a Soviet-backed puppet state of Baluchistan could be expected to claim the many Baluchis living inside Iran as its own citizens.

In current Iranian thinking, the Soviets then would be able to control oil resources and shipping routes in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Horn of Africa.

As the shah never tires of reiterating, 90 per cent of Japanese oil imports, 80 per cent of Western European imports and 35 per cent of U.S. imports pass through the Straits of Hormuz, controlling the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

Once the Soviets achieved that degree of control, the Iranian thesis goes, then the anti-Communist Western alliance would collapse without a shot being fired.

Although the government sources said Iran felt the United States, other Western powers and Iran should act together "stop by any means" Soviet plans to destabilize Pakistan, the shah is thought to be under no illusions abut American willingness to get involved in overseas military operations.

A more realistic pressure point on Afghanistan, the sources indicated, is the half million or so Afghans who work here as unskilled laborers and remit an estimated $300 million annually. That is more than twice Afghanistan's total exports.