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Pakistan Government Seeks Exemption from US Sanctions on Pakistan-Iran Gas Pipeline Project

Islamabad: The Pakistani government, under newly elected leadership, has embarked on a diplomatic endeavor to secure an exemption from potential US sanctions looming over the construction of the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project.

Minister for Petroleum, Dr. Musadik Malik, affirmed the government’s stance during an informal conversation with journalists, stressing that Pakistan cannot afford to bear the brunt of sanctions in the critical gas pipeline venture. This decision contrasts with the previous stance of the Foreign Office, which had indicated no room for discussion or waiver from third-party sanctions.

The urgency of seeking exemption comes in response to recent remarks by US diplomat Donald Lu, who expressed Washington’s commitment to thwarting the pipeline’s construction. Mr. Lu’s testimony before a US House subcommittee raised concerns, particularly as Islamabad had not yet applied for a waiver for potential US sanctions.

Dr. Malik elaborated on the government’s concerns over proposed gas price hikes by companies, emphasizing the need to advocate Pakistan’s case for a waiver on technical, political, and economic grounds. He underscored the importance of beginning construction on the project promptly while adhering to contractual obligations with Iran.

Despite a delay in filing the exemption request by the caretaker government, the current administration is poised to vigorously pursue diplomatic channels to secure the waiver amidst evolving geopolitical dynamics.

The pipeline project, aimed at importing gas from Iran, has faced numerous hurdles, including financial constraints and geopolitical tensions. Pakistan and Iran signed an agreement in 2009, with Iran already completing a significant portion of the pipeline. However, challenges arose, leading to delays and contractual disputes between the two nations.

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