Published On:September 15 2008
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Pakistani team to hold talks in Tehran on IPI pipeline project

Islamabad: Pakistan has simply ignored US advice to stay away from the India-Pakistan-Iran (IPI) gas pipeline as it will be sending a three-member official delegation to Tehran on September 26 for two-day talks with Iranian authorities for redesigning the gas line as a two-nation project.

The talks are to be held in Tehran on September 27 and 28. Petroleum Secretary (Incharge) G A Sabri will lead the Pakistan side. Pakistan's Ambassador to Tehran will assist the Pakistan delegation. Sources said that Pakistani would ask the Iranian counterpart in next round of talks to give a final deadline for completing all formalities and executing the project as early as possible.

Pakistan's concern is that its gas reserves are quickly depleting and market demand is growing. Islamabad is fully conscious of the significance of early execution of the IPI line for supplementing domestic gas supply. The government is desperately looking for materalising at least one of the three gas line projects.

Since IPI pipeline project has made some progress in the recent past, Pakistan wants to bring it on the ground within the possible shortest time period. The concerned authorities are of the view that Pakistan's side would tell Iranians about urgency in the coming talks and seek a well-defined timeframe for laying down of the pipeline.

The two sides had agreed to follow a segmental approach for IPI line to avoid delay in an accord they signed in Islamabad at the end of steering committee meeting held in May last. Islamabad is not bothering what the US thinks on Iranian gas pipeline. It is convinced that IPI project is the only possible option for importing gas for plugging the gap in demand and supply of gas.

The US had shown concern over Pakistan's consistent approach for IPI project. Its delegation, which visited Islamabad last month for talks with Pakistani officials on energy, reiterated its stance on the issue. The US delegation led by Secretary on Energy told the officials in Islamabad that Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project was not acceptable to Washington, as long as its standoff with Tehran on nuclear issue persisted. The US officials demanded that instead of wasting its time and resources on IPI project Islamabad should work on some alternative sources to get additional sources of comparatively cheaper sources of fuel.

The US Secretary for Energy who held talks with the officials on Pakistan's energy crisis and possible resources was categorical in one of the meetings that Washington was seriously concerned over the way Pakistan was pushing forward its plan for making IPI project a two-nation project. IPI is the worst victim of US policy of blocking any project which Washington feels is not in line with its interests in today's quickly changing world. During the last over one decade it has suffered for one reason or another.

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