"That timing is very important for the People's Party because they are building their campaign on this," said Hussain Yasar, a senior energy analyst at KASB Securities in Karachi.
One of the chief complaints of Pakistanis with the current government is over the widespread blackouts that have only gotten worse since it took over five years ago. The government seems to be promoting its commitment to the pipeline as a way to prove it is committed to solving the energy crisis despite its track record, and it has emphasized that it is going forward with the project in the face of U.S. opposition.
One of the biggest challenges for cash-strapped Pakistan is how to come up with the money needed to build the pipeline.
Few countries have been willing to risk American ire by financing the project. In a statement Monday, Pakistani officials said Iran will give Pakistan a $500 million loan to build part of it.
The Pakistanis said they will finance the rest of the project - roughly $1 billion - through a $500 million Chinese loan and an fee added to customers' bills. But that is a tough proposition, considering how few Pakistanis actually pay for electricity.
It's unclear whether Pakistan's commitment to the project will continue if the ruling party loses the upcoming election. The PPP's main contender is the Pakistan Muslim League-N, headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who spent years living in exile Saudi Arabia.
The oil-rich gulf kingdom, a Sunni Muslim country with deep suspicion of Iran's Shiite Muslim rulers, is believed to also be adamantly opposed to any deal that would benefit Iran.
"It will be a tricky situation for the PML-N," said Yasar.
Santana reported from Islamabad. Follow Santana on Twitter at (at)ruskygal.
Associated Press writer Ali Akbar Dareini contributed to this report from Tehran, Iran.
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