'Pak not to guarantee gas flow to India through Iran pipeline'

Pakistan and Iran have resolved almost all other issues pertaining to the gas pipeline project, including pricing of gas, project details and quantity of gas to be purchased, 'Dawn' newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying.

Work on the project can be undertaken immediately if Iran does not press Pakistan too much on the guarantee that it had sought to ensure unhindered gas supplies to India through the pipeline, the sources said.

Iran had been told by Pakistan that a friendly project between two neighbourly Muslim countries should not become victim to the interests of a third country and Iran should not ask Pakistan to guarantee uninterrupted supplies to India given the history of relations between Islamabad and New Delhi, the sources said.

They said Iran wanted Pakistan to agree to a performance guarantee for gas deliveries if India decided to become part of the project. This will require Pakistan to pay penalties to India for disruption of supplies even in case of sabotage or war between the two countries. Pakistan is ready to put in place all security measures required to protect the pipeline in its territory but it cannot pay the price for gas disruption when its own security is "threatened by India" or due to any sabotage activity, the sources said.

Pakistani defence authorities too objected to providing iron-clad sovereign guarantees to India for gas supplies through the pipeline, the sources told the paper.
India has been in discussions with Iran on joining the project and has participated in several trilateral meetings.

The sources said Pakistan needs gas from Iran to meet its growing energy requirements but it cannot compromise on its long-term national interests and even more so when it has not made progress in resolving longstanding issues with India. Iran and Pakistan signed a gas sales and purchase agreement in June last year under which Islamabad will purchase at least 750 million cubic feet of gas a day (MMCFD) from the Southern Pars gas field.

Gas supplies can be increased to one BCFD, the sources said.

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