Pakistan denies being `in fix` over Iran pipeline
Islamabad: Islamabad has said it is not `in a fix` over the much delayed USD 7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project due to foreign pressure.
Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said Pakistan is an energy-deficient country and it is clear that the pipeline is in its national interest, reports the Daily Times.
President Asif Ali Zardari will visit Iran on Monday for the groundbreaking of the pipeline project, he added.
Zardari recently made a two-day visit to Iran for finalising the gas pipeline deal and sorting out financing and technical issues.
The pipeline issue is likely to bring Pakistan-US ties under renewed stress as Washington has been staunchly opposing the project.
Earlier, US State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell had said that it is in Pakistan`s best interests to avoid any sanction-able activity, and that the US is providing a better way to meet Pakistan`s energy needs.
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.
The US pressure was so intense that at one stage even a Chinese-led consortium ditched the project.
Tehran has agreed to provide a USD 500 million loan to partially finance construction of the pipeline on the Pakistan side, which will cost USD 1.5 billion. Pakistan will pay the remaining cost from its own resources.
The pipeline is expected to 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.