Tuesday, March 27, 2012 -
Pakistan has signaled it will support the construction of a natural gas pipeline with Iran as well as the TAPI project as a means to provide its energy-hungry economy with needed fuel.
The view was expressed by President Asif Ali Zardari during meetings with his Afghan, Iranian, and Tajik counterparts in the Tajik capital Dushanbe over the weekend, the Islamabad-based The Express Tribune said on Tuesday.
The $7.6 billion TAPI pipeline is intended on supplying gas from Turkmenistan, with the world’s fourth largest proven reserves, to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
Islamabad would purchase 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year through the route.
The Western-backed TAPI project is viewed as a rival to Iran's plans to transit natural gas from its South Pars gas field to Pakistan and India through the so-called Peace Pipeline.
The TAPI pipeline is almost certain to be attacked by militant extremists as it runs through conflict regions in Afghanistan and Quetta in Pakistan, The Express Tribune acknowledged.
The Iranian pipeline is opposed by the United States, which has threatened sanctions against Pakistan if it proceeds. Washington is also working to cut off funding to the project, and is committed to sidelining Iran from the global economy so long as it pursues nuclear arms.
The United States has already successfully pressured a Chinese bank to withdraw a promise of financial support, The Express Tribune noted.