ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has authorised the export of 100,000 tonnes of wheat to Iran in trade not jeopardised by Western sanctions, to settle dues for electricity supplied to the country’s energy-starved border areas, the Commerce Ministry said on Friday.

The shipment of 100,000 tonnes was to have been delivered to Iran in mid-February but was delayed by preparations for Pakistan’s May 11 election.

“The wheat is being given to Iran against the outstanding payment of $53 million for electricity supplied to Pakistani border areas from the Iranian grid,” ministry spokesman Mohammad Ashraf said.

“The interim cabinet has approved the decision and exports will be initiated as early as possible.”

The European Union and the United States have imposed toughened sanctions meant to discourage Tehran’s nuclear programme, which they say has a military purpose. Iran rejects that claim, saying its programme aims at the peaceful production of electricity.

Western sanctions do not target food shipments, but financial measures have frozen Iranian companies out of much of the global banking system, hindering payments for imports, on which Iran relies for much of its food.

Pakistan is battling a chronic energy shortage, which is inflaming public anger and stifling industry. Power outages can last eight to 10 hours a day in cities, with much more frequent cuts in rural areas.

“Pakistan is an energy-starved country facing severe power cuts that are badly hampering industrial output,” Ashraf said. “Connecting far-flung areas to Pakistan’s grid is a costly affair.”

Electricity from Iran costs Pakistan around $3 million a month and is supplied to towns near the Iranian border, including the port city of Gwadar.

Pakistan also says it is building a $7-billion gas pipeline with Iran, despite US pressure on Islamabad to back out of the project.

Follow Dawn Business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for insights on business, finance and tech from Pakistan and across the world.

Opinion

Editorial

Silencing the public
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Silencing the public

Acting as if it is unaccountable, it is now curtailing citizens’ digital rights without even bothering to come up with a justification.
Fitch’s concern
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Fitch’s concern

It warns that “near-term political uncertainty may complicate the country’s efforts to secure a financing agreement with the IMF to succeed the Stand-by Arrangement”.
Zoo zealotry
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Zoo zealotry

IN a bizarre twist of faith and fur, the Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist group, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has...
Open the books
Updated 20 Feb, 2024

Open the books

Irregularities have been so widespread that even otherwise impartial observers are joining the chorus of voices demanding a recount.
BRICS candidacy
Updated 20 Feb, 2024

BRICS candidacy

For Pakistan to successfully join BRICS or compete in other arenas internationally, the political instability at home needs to be addressed.
Pneumonia menace
20 Feb, 2024

Pneumonia menace

PANIC is on the rise as the alarming surge in pneumonia cases has created an explosion of headlines — sans...