Alwaght- A Pakistani lawyer has called for the government to be pushed on completing a gas pipeline with Iran at the earliest, Karachi-based Dawn newspaper reports.
Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel asked Peshawar High Court to seek directive for the government to implement the much-delayed pipeline to pump Iranian natural gas to the country.
The petitioner said Pakistan had entered into agreement with Iran in 1995 for provision of natural gas facility, and that while Iran had already completed work on the pipeline on its part the Pakistani government had not.
Iran, Kakakhel said, had also offered Pakistan $500 million to help with construction of the pipelines, but “due to the US pressure Pakistan could not complete the pipeline within the stipulated time.”
“Pakistan has violated the terms and condition of the agreement and may face heavy penalties in near future,” Dawn quoted him as saying.
According to the lawyer, there is dire need of gas and oil in Pakistan that can be imported easily from Iran but the government has not been availing that option.
Kakakhel also chided the government for not attending a summit of Muslim nations in Malaysia last month.
Prime Minister Imran Khan did not attend the “important summit due to pressure of Saudi Arabia, which brought bad name to the country,” the lawyer said.
Khan, who along with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had been a prime mover behind the summit, made a belated decision to skip the meeting.
Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh has already said Pakistan was not cooperating on the construction of the pipeline.
“It is likely that the US and Saudi Arabia have been doing some sort of sabotage,” the Iranian minister has said, acknowledging a long-held view that Pakistan was under pressure to follow other options, including a proposed pipeline from Turkmenistan, named TAPI.
Experts say 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.
According to Turkmen officials, Saudi Arabia has pledged to make considerable investments in the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline.
Apart from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates was also interested in TAPI, Turkmenistan’s state information agency TDH has said.
The project, however, is 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,” Zangeneh once 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.
The $7 billion project was conceived in the 1990s to connect Iran’s giant South Pars gas field to the subcontinent. Unlike TAPI, the project does not have to cross Afghanistan for an extra 700 km in areas frequented by Taliban and Daesh militants, apart from being cheaper.
Security concerns have already forced Western conglomerates such as Chevron, Exxon, BP and Total to back down after showing initial interest in TAPI.
Iran has repeatedly called on the energy-starved Pakistan to initiate work on its part of the gas pipeline, but those pleas have fallen on deaf ears except for pledges from some Pakistan officials that they were still committed to the project.
Tehran is selling 1,000 megawatts of electricity to Pakistan and plans to increase this up to 3,000 megawatts, according to President Hassan Rouhani.
The energy crisis in Pakistan, which suffers about 12 hours of power cuts a day, has worsened in recent years amid 4,000 megawatts of electricity shortfall. The nation of 190 million people can only supply about two-thirds of its gas needs.
Source: Press TV