The National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs urged the Government to eliminate obstacles to the successful completion of the Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline.
The Chairman of the Committee MNA Mohsin Dawar expressed concerns that despite sanctions on Iran, some of the regional countries have been granted waivers vis-à-vis oil trade with Iran.
However, Pakistan could not secure such waivers to engage in a beneficial oil trade relationship with Iran. Urging the need for robust diplomacy, he urged the officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to aggressively pursue options to secure waivers on oil trade with Iran like India and China.
The officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce briefed the Committee on Pakistan-Iran political and bilateral trade relations. The Committee was informed that Pak-Iran relations were deeply rooted in cultural, historical, and religious linkages.
Iran was the first country that diplomatically recognized Pakistan and subsequently, both countries evolved institutional cooperation under the umbrella of SEATO, CENTO, and RCD. Iran has always supported Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir and Palestine. It was highlighted that sanctions on Iran precluded significant expansion in Pak-Iran’s trade and economic relations.
The Committee members raised concerns about the inordinate delay in the completion of the Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline and stressed why an agreement was concluded when it was not complied with. The members inquired about the repercussions of Pakistan’s failure to complete the construction of the Gas Pipeline on the Pakistani side by the deadline of the agreement.
The Committee was informed that as per the agreement the Pipeline should be completed by 2024 and in case of failure Pakistan may face arbitration in a French Court and Pakistan might face $18 billion as a fine if it terminates Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline agreement, The Committee underlined the need that for a concerted action to assign substantive meaning to Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline.
The Chair urged the Ministry of Commerce to furnish a comprehensive report vis-à-vis Pak-Iran trade potential in the absence of sanctions on Iran. The Committee recommended that all out efforts should be made to secure waivers from sanctions on oil trade with Iran.
The Committee was informed that despite sanctions Iran’s total exports stood at around $80 billion including $ 40 billion from non-oil-based products. It was highlighted that the quantum of Pakistan’s trade with Iran was approximately $1.5 billion covering food, medicines, cotton, and pharmaceutical products. Both sides continue to explore avenues for expanding bilateral trade including barter, currency swaps, and third-country currency.
Pakistan imports 104 MW of electricity from Iran and negotiations for an additional 100 MW were also underway. Matters including cross-border crime and terrorism and the evolving situation in Afghanistan also came under discussion.
The meeting of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs was presided over by its Chairman Mohsin Dawar, MNA, and attended by the Members of the National Assembly; Muhammad Khan Daha, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Maiza Hameed, Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani (through Video Link) and Mehnaz Akbar Aziz. The meeting was also attended by the senior officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce.