GABAD, (SANA): President Asif Ali Zardari and his Iranian counterpart Mehmood Ahmedinejad on Monday formally laid foundation stone of the historic Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project at a ceremony held at Iranian town of Gabad. They unveiled the plaque and offered prayers on the occasion.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, President Asif Ali Zardari said gas pipeline project is very important for Pakistan is not directed against any other country.
He said Pakistan and Iran are closely linked through history, culture and religion and the project is yet another facet of their cooperative relationship.
The President also referred to the challenges facing the Muslim Ummah and urged the international community to understand them and lend a helping hand in addressing them.
He said the gas pipeline project would usher in a new era of progress in Pakistan and prosperity of Pakistan would be in the interest of regional and global peace. He said we will have to stand on our own feet to be able to assist others.
The President thanked Iran for extending cooperation to help address the energy crisis.
President Asif Ali Zardari said democracy is getting roots in Pakistan and women are contributing their share in different spheres of life. He said Pakistan has first woman Speaker and the Foreign Minister too is a woman.
Iranian President Mahmood Ahmedinejad described it as peace pipeline project that would bring the two countries still closer.
He said the project reflected determination of the two countries for mutual cooperation for the benefit of their people.
Ahmedinejad said Pakistan and Iran are bestowed with immense natural resources and they can exploit their resources for the good of the two countries. Same is true of other regional countries and regional cooperation can help them overcome their problems.
He said gas pipeline project is beginning of the work and the pipeline can be extended to the North and East of Pakistan.
Referring to the outside pressure on the project, he said it has nothing to do with the Iranian nuclear programme.
Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr. Asim Hussain said the pipeline project would help Pakistan meet its growing energy needs. It will have soothing effect on the overall economy of the country as it would increase the GDP growth rate.
He said 781 kilometer pipeline would hopefully be completed by January 2015 and pass through Balochistan, creating about ten thousand job opportunities.
The Minister hoped that progress would also be made on setting up of an oil refinery by Iran at Gawadar.
The 1,600-kilometre pipeline, projected to cost around a whopping $1.2-1.5 billion, would enable the export of 21.5 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan on a daily basis.
Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometres of the pipeline on its soil.
Tehran-based Tadbir Energy Development Group will reportedly undertake all engineering procurement and construction work for the first segment of the project, which starts from the Iran-Pakistan border and costs around $250 million.
The Iranian firm will also carry out the second segment of the project, and extend the financing later to $500 million.
It is his second visit to Teheran during the last two weeks. It is expected that some other heads of the state and government of the region will also attend the ceremony.
The President‚ despite the International pressure‚ has categorically stated that the gas pipeline project is very important to meet Pakistan’s energy requirements.