Jan 30, 2018 13:37 UTC
  • Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh
    Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh

Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh says Pakistan is not cooperating on the construction of a much-delayed pipeline to pump natural gas to the country.

Iran says it has completed work on its side of the pipeline up to the border of Pakistan and is ready to deliver the gas but Islamabad has yet to start construction of the line on its territory.   

“Pakistan has been falling short and is not cooperating on the construction of the pipeline,” state news agency IRNA quoted Zanganeh as saying Tuesday.

“It is likely that the US and Saudi Arabia have been doing some sort of sabotage,” the minister said, acknowledging a long-held view that Pakistan was under pressure to follow other options, including a proposed pipeline from Turkmenistan, nicknamed TAPI.

Zanganeh, however, said there are barriers to building TAPI which is designed to carry natural gas from the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.

The $10 billion project has been touted as a rival to the Iran plan and drawn support from the US and Saudi Arabia.

Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Maksat Babayev announced last week that Saudi Arabia would make considerable investments in the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. State media said Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov had sent a message to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, “expressing gratitude for the investments provided by Saudi Fund for Development” for the construction of the pipeline.

Apart from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates was also interested in TAPI, Turkmenistan’s state information agency TDH reported.

Zanganeh played down those reports, saying the project was unlikely to proceed given that India and Pakistan are often at each other’s throat.

“Anyone who could bring Pakistan and India together would do a very difficult and important job,” the Iranian oil minister said.

The Iran plan, dubbed the “peace pipeline”, was initially designed to pass through Pakistan into India but New Delhi quit the project in 2009.