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Blast Damages Pakistani Gas Pipeline

Another apparent act of sabotage has disrupted Pakistan's vital natural gas pipeline system. An explosion late Friday night damaged part of the gas pipeline supplying Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore.

Although police say they are still investigating the incident, a gas company official says the explosion was sabotage.

Damage was minor, however, and the pipes were repaired by mid-day Saturday, with a secondary pipeline running gas to Lahore in the interim.

Pakistan's natural gas network has proved an inviting target for militants opposed to the government.

The pipelines are especially vulnerable in Balochistan, where tribesmen have carried out a series of attacks on government targets to protest lack of development aid and the deployment of military troops in areas they consider tribal lands.

One recent attack temporarily knocked out services to the southern region, including to Karachi, Pakistan's largest city.

In an interview with VOA before the Friday attack on the pipeline, Petroleum Minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon said that despite the threat, he feels confident Pakistan can keep its energy infrastructure safe.

"We are very capable of making secure our resources, our pipeline. … If somebody has any doubts, they should remove their doubts," he said.

The issue is more than just one of consumer convenience. Pakistan is hoping to construct a gas pipeline from Iran that could bring needed revenue and jobs to the country.

Questions over security could put an end to such plans.