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Government to Seek U.S. Waiver for Iran-Pakistan Pipeline Project

Petroleum minister says Islamabad will lobby U.S. lawmakers to secure waiver for long-pending project

by Staff Report

File photo of the Iran section of the pipeline. Atta Kenare—AFP

Islamabad will seek a waiver from Washington to complete the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik said on Monday.

“Pakistan will vigorously present its case and will try to seek exemption from U.S. sanctions by presenting technical and political arguments,” he told journalists during an informal chat. He said Pakistan would also lobby U.S. lawmakers to secure support for the waiver, adding Islamabad hoped to commence construction on its section of gas pipeline project soon.

The former caretaker government, in February, decided to complete the gas line project in two phases, devising a plan to initially lay 81km section of the pipeline from Gwadar to connect to Iran, which has already laid its part of the pipeline from the gas field. Following the decision, Iran extended until September 2024 a deadline for Pakistan to complete the project. Tehran has already indicated it would move the Paris-based International Arbitration Court seeking a penalty of $18 billion if Pakistan fails to proceed with its portion of the pipeline.

While Malik has expressed optimism over securing the waiver, the U.S. has already hinted this is a “red line” it would not compromise. “We have warned them about our red lines, legislative, but also in terms of how we cooperate with Pakistan,” Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu told a Congressional hearing on Pakistan last week. “If they get in bed with Iran, it will be very serious for our relationship,” he added.

Initiated in 2009, the project has been stalled from Pakistan’s side due to the threat of U.S. sanctions. However, Iran has repeatedly dismissed these concerns, maintaining the U.S. sanctions are unjustified. Last week, addressing a press briefing, the Foreign Office spokesperson said Pakistan was committed to completing the project, adding it was in the country’s interest and was solely restricted to Pakistan’s own soil.

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