Iran-Pak gas pipeline: US opposes, Pakistan to start project on March 11

Pakistan to go ahead with Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
Pakistan to go ahead with Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

Pakistan is not caving under intense US pressure  and will start work on $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan pipeline project in its territory from March 11 this year.

Islamabad, March 5/Nationalturk – Amidst continued pressure and intense opposition from United States, Pakistan is not relenting and will start work on $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan pipeline project in its territory from March 11 this year.

“Iran-Pakistan pipeline project was necessary for affordable energy for Pakistan and the world must understand the national interest of our country,” Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari has said.

He said the gas pipeline project was motivated to meet the country’s growing energy needs and was not against any other country.

Stating that Pakistan was facing energy crisis, Zardari said, “Pakistan needed to exploit all available resources especially low-cost hydel power and exploring ways and means to import power and energy from its neighbouring countries”.

“Iran-Pakistan  gas pipeline project was one such endeavour, which would be formally launched on March 11,” he said adding Pakistan was a sovereign country and had every right to pursue projects in national interest and did not intend to offend anyone.

Sources said the two countries had initially planned to perform the groundbreaking on March 4, but delayed it for a week because of inadequate preparations for the ceremony. A number of foreign diplomats in Islamabad are likely to be invited to the event. “If everything goes well, the pipeline will be completed within 15 months,” they said.

Asserting that Pakistan was an active player in contributing to world peace and stability, Zardari said the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline should be viewed purely in the context of meeting its energy needs.  “We hope the critics of the project would appreciate Pakistan’s energy requirements and the need for importing gas”.

Pakistan and Iran have held a series of talks on the project for nearly two decades but it was finalized only last week during Asif Zardari’s visit to Tehran. Iran has already completed the pipeline in its territory while the laying of 785-km Pakistani section will start shortly. Pakistan plans to import 21.5 million cubic meters of gas daily from Iran through the pipeline.

Dr Asim Hussain, Advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources said Iran will complete the 80 kilometers pipeline inside Pakistan from Gabd—a point at Pak-Iran border under its loan of $250 million. “The remaining 701 kilometer pipeline will be procured by Pakistan in which another tranche of Iranian loan of $250 million will be used,” he said.

The gas project has time and again run into problems. It initially started in 1994 as Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline but in 2009 India distanced itself from the project to get a civil nuclear deal from the US.

US does not support the project: Envoy

The US envoy to Pakistan Richard Olson has said America wants to help Pakistan to overcome its energy crisis but it opposes Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.

“We have a clear policy over Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline,” Olson said addressing a function here today.

He said that the US was in favour of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. “US would also continue to help the country to reduce the energy crisis.”

Earlier, US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell had said last week that it was in Pakistan’s best interest to avoid any sanctionable activity.


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Faiz Ahmad / NationalTurk Pakistan News


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