Too early to comment on Iran-India gas talks: Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan will not comment on reported talks between Iran and India about reviving multi billion dollars Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project until it receives formal request from New Delhi.

The Foreign Ministry officials refuse to comment on the Indo-Iran reported talks, saying Pakistan would not comment on media reports.
India, which was previously part of the tripartite consultations, abandoned the project leaving Iran and Pakistan to continue with it as Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project.
Despite the US threat to impose economic sanctions on IP project, Iran had taken lead and pledged to provide $500 million to Pakistan to lay pipeline.
An Iranian technical delegation was due to visit Pakistan last month to finalise the crucial Engineering and Procurement Contract (EPC) to kick start the work on Pakistan’s section of the pipeline. However, the visit could not be made because of elections.
A delegation from Tadbir Energy — the Iranian contracting firm — is expected to visit Pakistan next week to finalise EPC with Pakistani authorities in order to start work on the multi billion dollars project.
“We are hoping to finalise the ECP with Iranian contractors in a month or so to start the work without further delay”, a senior Pakistani government official said, hoping that work on Pakistan’s segment of the pipeline would start shortly after signing of the EPC.
Iran has pledged to give $500 million to Pakistan as soft loan repayable in 20 years for laying the pipeline on Pakistan side.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have already inaugurated work on the Pakistani section of the pipeline last month. The construction will be completed in 22 months. Pakistan and Iran have agreed on the pipeline deal early this year on February 27.
With 56-inche diameter the IP gas pipeline is aimed to deliver 8.7 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year to Pakistan.
A consortium of Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited is responsible for the construction of the pipeline.
According to an Indian newspaper, Iranian and Indian officials would further discuss the extension of Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline to India.
The extension project will top the agenda of the talks between two countries at an economic commission meeting this week, Tehran’s envoy in New Delhi Gholamreza Ansari was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.
Pakistan to seek Afghan
border closure on May 11
Pakistan would make a formal request to Afghan government and ISAF to seal Pak-Afghan border on May 11, sources said on Wednesday.
“Pakistan will ask Afghan authorities and ISAF to prevent infiltration of militants into its territory with the aim of subverting the election process on May 11,” a senior government official told The Nation.
According to the sources, the move comes after intelligence reports that TTP commander Moulvi Fazalullah and his associates are planning to subvert the election process in Swat, Malkand Division and other parts of the country.

By The Nation


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