ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had bowed before international pressure and was unwilling to execute the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.

In response to a news report about Pakistan’s alleged unwillingness to complete the project, Mr Bhutto-Zardari tweeted: “Once again federal government has bowed before international pressure & isn’t completing Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline project. PPP initiated this project at height of international sanctions because we put Pakistan first. People pay price of leaders weakness in expensive gas bills.”

Pakistan has reportedly informed Iran in writing that it cannot execute the gas pipeline project as long as Tehran is under the United States sanctions regime.

President Donald Trump recently imposed new sanctions targeting Iran’s revenue from export of industrial metals and threatened further action unless Tehran changes its behaviour.

According to the agreement signed in 2009, the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project was to be completed by December 2014 to supply 21.5 million cubic metres of gas per day to Pakistan.

The pipeline was to be constructed using a segmented approach, with Iran having to lay the pipeline on its side and Pakistan to build it in its territory.

Under a penalty clause of the Gas Sales Purchase Agreement, Pakistan is bound to pay $1 million per day to Iran from January 1, 2015, for failing to build its part of the pipeline.

In January, Pakistan had urged Iran to explain in writing its interpretation of sanctions that resulted in a massive delay in completion of the gas pipeline project.

The project, under which Pakistan was reportedly supposed to receive as many as 750MMCF of natural gas from Iran per day through an agreement, is off the table for the past four years due to international sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the unilateral sanctions clamped by the US, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2019