LAHORE, Pakistan – President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, while talking to the media at Lahore, reiterated that Pakistan will not stop the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline despite threats from the United States, reported Dispatch News Desk.
Talking to reporters after his arrival at Lahore on Friday, he was very loud and clear and said categorically that the “Iran-Pakistan gas Pipeline project shall not be stopped by his government at any cost.”
The United States has threatened Pakistan with dire consequences if it continues to work on the Iran-Pakistan pipeline. The project has, however, kicked off and work has started after the meeting of the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, with the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei, on Wednesday.
Pakistan and Iran have also changed the design and map of the gas pipeline route and now it will enter Pakistan from a coastal area instead of the old route of Balochistan province, in order to protect this pipeline from any security problem. Some experts claim that the US has created unrest in Balochistan to stop this huge project that will directly benefit Iran against sanctions and will support Pakistan to come out from its energy crises.
On the same day after the meeting of the two leaders, the consortium started the construction of the Pakistani section of the pipeline which stretches from the border between the two countries to the Navabshah region in Pakistan and covers 781 kilometers (km) of the total 1,881-km length of the pipeline. According to the deal, an Iranian-Pakistani consortium will complete the process of constructing the pipeline in 15 months.
The pipeline, projected to cost about US$1.2-1.5 billion, would enable the export of 21.5 million cubic meters of Iran’s natural gas to Pakistan on a daily basis.
“The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is an important example of Tehran-Islamabad cooperation, and despite hostilities towards the expansion of ties we must overcome this opposition decisively,” Khamenei told Asif Ali Zardari, his office reported. The gas pipeline project is strongly opposed by Tehran’s arch foe, Washington.
“Accessing [a] safe energy source is the first priority for any country, including Pakistan. In this region, the Islamic republic is the only nation that has safe energy resources, and we are ready to provide Pakistan its energy needs,” the all-powerful Khamenei said.
Zardari, who also met with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was quoted by the leader’s office as saying: “We deeply believe in boosting bilateral ties.
“The international and regional players have tried in vain to prevent expansion of Iran-Pakistan ties, but the people have learnt how to act against the enemy of Islam.”
The pipeline project has run into repeated problems, including Pakistan’s difficulty in finding funds and opposition to the project from Washington, which has slapped Iran with a raft of sanctions over its nuclear activities.
In 2010, Iran and Pakistan agreed that Tehran would supply between 750 million cubic feet (21 million cubic meters) and one billion cubic feet per day of natural gas by mid-2015.
Islamabad has said it will pursue the project regardless of US pressure, saying the gas is needed to help Pakistan overcome its energy crisis that has led to debilitating blackouts and suffocated industry.
Just after a day, the US State Department said that it was providing Pakistan with alternatives that would avoid any sanctions violation.
“We recognize that Pakistan has significant energy requirements, but we really think there are other long-term solutions to Pakistan’s energy needs,” said deputy acting spokesman Patrick Ventrell.
“And so we’ve been assisting as a government to contribute to the alleviation of the energy crisis in Pakistan,” he said.
“It’s in their best interests to avoid any sanctionable activity, and we think that we provide and are providing … a better way to meet their energy needs in some of the assistance we’re providing.”