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- File Photo

ISLAMABAD: After a wait of almost two decades, the groundbreaking of $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline will be performed on March 11 on the Pak-Iran border by the presidents of the two countries.

Agreements for opening two more border crossings (Gabd and Pasni) and setting up an oil refinery in Gwadar will also be signed after the ceremony, a Pakistan embassy official in Tehran told Dawn.

The ceremony will be held at Gabd zero point on the border from where the Pakistan section of the gas pipeline starts.

President Asif Ali Zardari returned on Thursday after a two-day visit to Iran for finalising the gas pipeline deal and sorting out financing and technical issues. “We have successfully completed all negotiations,” the official said after the president’s trip.

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 posted in Islamabad are being invited to the event.

The pipeline issue is likely to bring Pakistan-US ties under renewed stress as Washington has been staunchly opposing the project.

“It’s in their best interests to avoid any sanction-able 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,” deputy US State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell said on Wednesday.

In Tehran, President Zardari, while rejecting the US pressure, had said: “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 enemies of Islam.”

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

All along there have also been disputes over tariff. Lately, financing the laying of the pipeline in Pakistani territory has been a major issue because of US sanctions on Iran.

The US pressure was so intense that at one stage even a Chinese-led consortium ditched the project.

Tehran has agreed to provide a $500 million loan to partially finance construction of the pipeline on the Pakistan side, which will cost $1.5 billion. Pakistan will pay the remaining cost from its own resources.

If everything else goes well the pipeline will be completed in 15 months. Iran has already completed the pipeline in its territory, while the laying of 785-km-long Pakistani section will commence now. Pakistan plans to import 21.5 million cubic metres of gas daily from Iran via the pipeline.

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Comments (26)

sikander
March 1, 2013 8:10 am
Well done! The project should have been started long time ago to avoid the load shedding crisis in Pakistan. Government should do more to eradicate the electricity load shedding. The economic conditions are not favorable and has been tumbled due to the lack of energy supply. Factories in Pakistan has suffered the most. People are out of work and crime has been increased since then.
mughees
March 1, 2013 7:55 am
excellent
A Rehman K
March 1, 2013 6:10 am
A very sensible and wise decision from the President and the government.
Husain Jan
March 1, 2013 5:38 am
Let's hope we don't back track at the last moment on one pretext or other.
Sajad Padder
March 1, 2013 7:40 am
It is a very nice move to overcome the energy crisis in Pakistan. By this initiative i am hopeful that the civil-society and policy makers in India will push for the completion of 'Iran-Pakistan-India' gas pipeline project. It is an act of South-South Cooperation and the regional players in this part of the world must act in one voice to deter threats from the global North.
balejibreel@gmail.com
March 1, 2013 8:02 am
Despite these visits and ceremonies, why do I keep doubting that Pakistan would eventually cave in to US pressure...or may be more importantly Saudi pressure He may earn respect of his countrymen if Zardari could really pull this off
HM, Canada
March 1, 2013 7:25 am
GOOD NEWS FOR PAKISTAN. Well done Zardari although very late. Could have done it during NATO supply line suspension. If US puts undue pressure stop NATO supply. We don't need US tit bits
YOUSUF HUSSAIN
March 1, 2013 5:41 am
This is the great deal and the credit goes to president Asif Ali Zardari to sign the agreement where as there was great pressure from USA.
Nomi Khan
March 1, 2013 5:03 am
should not back off. Resist the pressure like 1998 atomic bombs. we will succeed. Inshallah.
parhakoo
March 1, 2013 5:05 am
If it indeed happens, in spite of all the pressure (outside the pipeline), this will be definitely the biggest feather in the current setup's cap. Kudos and respect for getting it done regardless.
Kausar.talat
March 1, 2013 4:45 am
With all the fiasco Zardari and his partners have created during last five years, two decisions that Zardari government recently made must be given credit and appreciated by th enation. One handing over the Gawadar port to China (a naval base is also in plan) and the Pakistan Iran gas pipe line. It is a blessing in disguise that India walked away from this project. Coming years will prove how important these decisions are fpr Pakistan. Dr. Kausar Talat
Shahbaz
March 1, 2013 4:43 am
This is a very good sign of putting aside international pressure. PPP is getting wise as their rule is going to be over. we must appreciate these two good projects Gwadar and this one. What else United states could do to us. Every shit out in this country is linked to their majesties. we must get back from the US alliance as this will end up in nothing then the more deteriorating condition of the country. I appreciate this step of present Zardari. He really showed the courage but this would have been good if they had utilized all of their term like a True Muslim leader. i hope the next Govt. will continue this project fearlessly. We need a fear less leadership for these kind of bold decision. Long Live Pakistan.
Shahid
March 1, 2013 4:28 am
I hope it doesn't end here and goes on to be completed as planned. I am worried that if Nawaz Sharif comes in to power, he will do what suits Saudi kings and surely Saudis will not want it to be completed.
Maymar bin Aziz
March 1, 2013 4:27 am
USA doesn't have any issue against India building a Port in Iran at Chahbahar, for importing cheap oil and gas but when Pakistan does it , Iran has sanctions and Pakistan will Face Sanctions. Double Standards?
Shirin
March 1, 2013 3:34 am
YES!!!
SK
March 1, 2013 2:00 am
Congratulations to both countries. Now Pakistan wont be energy starved country anymore!
Atta ur Rehman
March 1, 2013 8:50 am
that is good for Pakistan economy.. Need gas and oil for get rid of load shedding simple as that... Good work from Zardari on that account even though it is too late but OK if completed god willing.
Akram
March 1, 2013 8:52 am
Excellent news. Pakistan must stand firm and act in its own interest. After all it is the democratic will of the people.
Khurram
March 1, 2013 8:57 am
FINALLY, some CNG, who care what US thinks !!!!!!
Reader
March 1, 2013 9:29 am
At last the Pakistani govt has realised that undue US pressure should be ignored in the interest of the country. US ignored Pakistani concerns when they agreed to provide nuclear reactor to India despite sanctions and in their own interest. Pakistan SHOULD look after its interest first.
haris
March 1, 2013 9:58 am
After a long time I finally heard something good. Thanks God!
omer khan shaheen
March 1, 2013 10:04 am
A very good small step forward, as far as our foreign policy is concerned.
danial tariq
March 1, 2013 12:09 pm
So finally we are seeing this happening...
sraz45
March 1, 2013 12:11 pm
Good move, this will help Pakistan narrow the gap in its energy need. Much needed development will take place because of this and Thar coal coming on line soon.
Airshark
March 2, 2013 6:55 am
INSHALLAH
skeptic
March 2, 2013 8:11 pm
the next couple of years are going to be a defining time for Pakistan either way,one just hopes that it's for the better. a good step in the right direction.
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