High pressure: President inaugurates historic Pak-Iran gas pipeline

Despite US pressure, foundation laying ceremony for the multi-billion dollar pipeline carried out on Pak-Iran border.

Reuters/web Desk March 11, 2013
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) shakes hands with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari during a ceremony marking the start of work on the 780-kilometre (485-mile) pipeline from Iran to Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

CHAHBAHAR: President Asif Ali Zardari along with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad inaugurated the multi-billion dollar Pak-Iran gas pipeline in Chahbahar on Monday, reported Express News. 

The contentious gas pipeline was inaugurated by Zardari as he pulled the rope to reveal the foundation-laying plaque on the Pak-Iran border for the 1,600 kilometre long pipeline.

A 300-member strong Pakistani delegation led by President Zardari and comprising the country’s foreign minister, petroleum minister and National Assembly speaker and a number of prominent politicians attended the historic ceremony.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Moazzam Ali Khan said several heads of states had also been invited at the inauguration — an event that will see the two neighbouring states sign a crucial yet controversial mega project aimed at easing Pakistan’s energy crisis. However, he refused to give any further details.

One official pointed out that the high-powered inauguration clearly indicated that Pakistan would pursue the project at all costs.

Iran has completed 900 km (560 miles) of pipeline on its side of the border and Iranian contractors will also construct the pipeline in Pakistan, Iran's national broadcasting network IRIB reported.

Tehran has agreed to lend Islamabad $500 million, or a third of the estimated $1.5 billion cost of the 750 km Pakistani section of the pipeline, Fars news agency reported.

The two sides hope the pipeline will be complete in time to start delivery of 21.5 million cubic metres of gas per day to Pakistan by December 2014.

The US has issued warnings to invoke economic sanctions already in place against Iran if Pakistan went ahead with its plans to import natural gas from the Islamic republic.

The United States has steadfastly opposed Pakistani and Indian involvement, saying the project could violate sanctions imposed on Iran over nuclear activities that Washington suspects are aimed at developing a weapons capability. Iran denies this.

India quit the project in 2009, citing costs and security issues, a year after it signed a nuclear deal with Washington.

You can view a slideshow of the inauguration ceremony here.


safdar | 11 years ago | Reply

The groundbreaking ceremony of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project performed jointly by President Asif Ali Zardari and President Mehmoud Ahmadinejad at Gabd, located in Iran close to Pakistan border, on Monday was, by all logic, a giant leap in history. For the Pakistan government that has not, at least during the past five years or so, been known much for disregarding the US command or counsel to suddenly ignore the threat of sanctions is an act of no small courage. Overwhelmed by financial constraints, it looks up to Washington for relief through international financing institutions like the IMF to which it is at present heavily indebted and might have to have recourse for another package to bail itself out. Sanctions at this stage would further hamper the already crippled economy to get reactivated. Going ahead with building the pipeline signifies that Pakistan has finally realised that its salvation lies in aggressively pursuing a policy of fulfilling energy requirements. Economic networking with Tehran and through Gwadar with Beijing would make for regional cohesion of common interests and would largely go towards enabling us to meet the challenge emanating from our eastern border. Viewed from that angle as well, the decision to pursue the long-delayed project was a strategic move of sterling significance for Pakistan and stability in the region. And that might also persuade the leadership in New Delhi to see the advantages of living in harmony with neighbours, respecting their right of sovereign status and eschewing its hegemonic ambitions. No doubt, it would also have a positive impact on integrating Central Asian States with this region. President Asif Ali Zardari indeed deserve a big hand of applaud.

Dr.A.K.Tewari | 11 years ago | Reply

Gas tarrif will be benificial for Pakistan and the country will earn doller comming from it's consumers , But there are several hurdles . Terrorism and counter terrorism are there in the way .......

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