Iran-Pakistan project: Zardari to inaugurate pipeline on Monday

Published: March 8, 2013
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“We are not in a fix... we are very clear about it that the pipeline is in our national interest being an energy deficient country,” says Khan.

“We are not in a fix... we are very clear about it that the pipeline is in our national interest being an energy deficient country,” says Khan.

ISLAMABAD: 

With one eye on Pakistan being crushed by an energy crisis and the other on upcoming polls, President Asif Ali Zardari will visit Iran on Monday for the groundbreaking ceremony of the much delayed $7.5 billion gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan.

“President Zardari will visit Iran for the groundbreaking ceremony and it will take place on March 11,” foreign ministry spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan told reporters in Islamabad on Thursday during a Foreign Office briefing.

It will be Zardari’s second visit to Iran since February 27 and comes after officials said a consortium would begin work on the Pakistani side on March 11 despite American warnings of possible sanctions.

“We are not in a fix… we are very clear about it that the pipeline is in our national interest being an energy deficient country,” Khan said, while hoping that the US would show “more understanding” on Pakistan’s decision to go ahead with the pipeline.

“Yes, we know about their concerns but hope our friends, including the US, will understand our economic compulsions,” said Khan.

He went on to add that the project would be inaugurated by President Asif Ali Zardari and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the Iran-Pakistan border with a number of heads of states and other dignitaries also expected to attend the ceremony.

Although the pipeline on the Iranian side has almost been completed, Pakistan has run into repeated difficulties, both in financing the project and over a US threat of possible sanctions due to Iran’s nuclear activities.

Iran eventually agreed to finance a third of the costs of laying the pipeline through Pakistan, with the work to be carried out by an Iranian gas company.

Khan said Pakistan would pursue the project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014, at all costs.  Officials have said Monday’s ceremony will mark the start of work on the 780-kilometre (485-mile) pipeline earmarked for the Pakistani side of the border, which is said to cost some $1.5 billion.

PM to visit India

The spokesman also confirmed that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf would be travelling to India today (Friday) to visit the shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer Sharif.

“It is a personal visit and I don’t have details about the meetings,” said Khan, when asked if the premier would meet any political leaders during his short visit in India.

(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • S
    Mar 8, 2013 - 4:01AM

    INSHALLAH

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  • agha
    Mar 8, 2013 - 5:37AM

    An appreciated bold step by the president.

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  • MAG
    Mar 8, 2013 - 8:53AM

    US will never tolerate the collaboration of Muslim Countries!

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  • HUM
    Mar 8, 2013 - 8:56AM

    Yep a trap for the next government. for them it will be damned if you do, damned if you don’tRecommend

  • scotchpak
    Mar 8, 2013 - 9:19AM

    Where did Pakistan get the extra bravado? It was’n the IMF for sure

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  • Gulam Rasool "Kuldeep sharma"
    Mar 8, 2013 - 10:43AM

    Its a good move for Pakistan, but it will never happen because of US sanctions. Pakistani economy will not survive in that scenario.
    you will get the gas but lose much much more.
    Its just an election propaganda.

    Gulam Rasool “Kuldeep sharma”
    New Delhi

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  • Ali Zaid
    Mar 8, 2013 - 11:41AM

    @Ghulam Rasool
    Thats what we have to learn, to live with dignity. What good are luxuries if they come with loads of disrespect and shame for a nation? Iranians are living under toughest conditions these days due to US terrorism but the people of Iran are proud of their freedom. What good is a 3 time meal if its cost is the exchange of freedom with IMF/UN/US/WB?
    Pakistanis have to learn to live with dignity and die with dignity.

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  • Realist
    Mar 8, 2013 - 12:23PM

    The question is will this deal survive under pressure from IMF since we are going to ask them for loans for our next budget after all. That is a fact. So I tend to agree with the guy who said this is an election move.

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  • JSM
    Mar 8, 2013 - 2:34PM

    Is the pipeline ready that the Preident is going to inaugurate (as stated in the headline)?

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  • cautious
    Mar 9, 2013 - 12:10AM

    A pipeline is just a means of delivering product – by itself it generates zero energy – you only build one if you determine there is transportation savings large enough to warrant the massive investment. In Pakistan’s case no one has bothered to ask if there is a saving or whether it makes any sense to spend $7.5 billion on steel pipe/infrastructure tied to a country which has cut off trade/borders on many occasions. Pakistan got into it’s energy crisis through lack of planning and poor decisions – IP is just another example of perpetuating that lack of planning/decision making.

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