"The overland route of gas pipelines from Central Asia through Pakistan would be economically viable for India. Pakistan will give absolute guarantees the pipeline would be protected," Pakistan High Commissioner to India Aziz Ahmed Khan said.

"We firmly believe that Pakistan and India are not destined to live as adversaries forever... We need cooperation and not confrontation," Khan said in the eastern city of Kolkata on Tuesday.

India sees piped gas imports from Central Asia as a cost-effective means to supplement its meagre energy reserves but has been reluctant to have pipelines run through Pakistan.

Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have come up with a proposal that would see gas pipelines make their way to India through their countries.

India cautious

"We firmly believe that Pakistan and India are not destined to live as adversaries forever... We need cooperation and not confrontation"

Aziz Ahmed Khan
Pakistani High Commissioner to India

However, India has not responded to the proposal, as well as to one from Iran, due to security fears.

India and Pakistan have gone to war three times since their independence from Britain in 1947 but bilateral ties have been on the mend in recent months.

The two countries have called a ceasefire on their border and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is slated to visit Pakistan for a regional summit in January.

"As we enter the new century, the need for reducing tensions and establishing more fruitful economic interaction
between the two
countries was never so great," Khan said.