The main opposition party in Pakistani National Assembly has called on the country’s government to take immediate measures for completing a multi-billion-dollar pipeline project that would take natural gas from Iran to Pakistan.
In a statement which was released on Wednesday, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo urged the federal government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to honor its commitments with regard to the gas pipeline and not submit to foreign pressure.
Wattoo stressed that the pipeline project between the two neighboring countries is the fastest solution to the energy problem in Pakistan, urging the government to take a proactive approach with regard to the construction of the pipeline.
The Iran-Pakistan pipeline aims to help Pakistan overcome its growing energy needs at a time when the country of over 180 million people is grappling with serious energy shortages.
He also described the project as critical for Pakistan’s economy and went on to say that the PPP leadership would be fully behind the government if it takes measures to build the pipeline and confront internal and external pressures against the project.
Wattoo’s comments come one day after Sartaj Aziz, a senior adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on national security and foreign affairs, said issues like US sanctions against Iran and the 18-month deadline given to Pakistan to build its side of the pipeline as the main obstacles in the way for completing the project.
The US has long been threatening Islamabad with economic sanctions if it goes ahead with the plan.
Under the original agreement sealed between Iran and Pakistan, the first Iranian gas delivery to Pakistan was to start by December 31, 2014.
On February 27, Iranian Deputy Oil Minister for International and Trade Affairs Ali Majedi cautioned Islamabad over falling behind schedule in fulfilling its obligations with regard to the project, saying, it would be imprudent for Pakistan to link the failure to abide by its commitments to the sanctions imposed on Iran.
Iran has already built 900 kilometers of the pipeline on its own soil and is waiting for the 700-kilometer Pakistani side of the pipeline to be constructed.
Iran and Pakistan clinched the deal in 1995. Later, Iran made a proposal to extend the pipeline from Pakistan into India. In February 1999, an accord between Iran and India was signed. Nevertheless, India withdrew from the project in 2009 under US pressure.