Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Islamabad will go ahead with the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project, in defiance of US unilateral sanctions against the Iranian energy sector.
Zardari made the remarks while addressing the inaugural session of the two-day fifth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA-V) in Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe. The event was attended by delegations from 70 countries and international organizations.
The Pakistani president emphasized that Islamabad is committed to the implementation of such regional projects as Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) and the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline projects.
He added that in view of the importance of such projects for the overall development of the region, they needed regional and international support.
"We have tremendous scope for cooperation in several areas including energy, transport, industry, mining, livestock, education, agriculture and environment," Zardari said.
The 2700-kilometer long pipeline was to supply gas for Pakistan and India which are suffering a lack of energy sources, but India has evaded talks. Last year Iran and Pakistan declared they would finalize the agreement bilaterally if India continued to be absent in the meetings.
According to the project proposal, the pipeline will begin from Iran's Assalouyeh Energy Zone in the south and stretch over 1,100 km through Iran. In Pakistan, it will pass through Baluchistan and Sindh but officials now say the route may be changed if China agrees to the project.
The gas will be supplied from the South Pars field. The initial capacity of the pipeline will be 22 billion cubic meters of natural gas per annum, which is expected to be later raised to 55 billion cubic meters. It is expected to cost $7.4 billion.