Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjead is likely to ask Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to fast track the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project when the two meet in Tehran on Wednesday, Indian news agency IANS has reported.
The meeting is expected to revive stalled negotiations over the ambitious $7 billion pipeline proposal that seeks to bring Iranian gas to India via Pakistan, reported IANS.
Iran and Pakistan have already sealed a bilateral deal on the pipeline, but India has yet to take a decision due to various reasons. India has cited security concerns, as the proposed pipeline passes through volatile regions of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, IANS said. Transport and transit fees are also contentious issues.
Apart from scepticism about the economic and logistical viability of the pipeline, the project is also opposed by the US, which feels its implementation will amount to a defeat of the superpower’s larger strategy of isolating Tehran in the region. In India, the pipeline has been virtually written off, but there are signs that it may yet be revived.
Early this month, an Indian parliamentary panel asked the petroleum ministry to “vigorously” pursue and settle all pending issues related to the project, as it would help address the country’s growing energy demand.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2012.