ISLAMABAD: The members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday urged the government to eliminate obstacles to completion of Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline Project to avoid the possible fine of $18bn in case of failure to complete the construction on its side by the next year.

According to an official handout issued by the National Assembly Secretariat, committee’s chairman Mohsin Dawar observed that despite sanctions on Iran, some of the regional countries have been granted waivers in doing oil trade with Iran, but Pakistan could not secure such waivers to engage in the beneficial oil trade relations with the western neighbouring country.

Urging the need for a robust diplomacy, he urged officials of the ministries of commerce and foreign affairs to aggressively pursue options to secure waivers on oil trade with Iran, like what India and China had done.

The committee members raised concerns about the inordinate delay in completion of Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline project and stressed as to why an agreement was concluded when it was not complied with. The members inquired about repercussions of Pakistan’s failure to complete the construction of gas pipeline on Pakistani side by the deadline of the agreement.

Islamabad may face $18bn fine in case of failure to complete construction by next year

The committee was informed that as per agreement the pipeline should be completed by 2024 and in case of failure Pakistan may face arbitration in a French court and it might face $18 billion in fine if it terminated the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline agreement. The chairman urged the Ministry of Commerce to furnish the comprehensive report regarding Pak-Iran trade potential.

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 exports stood around $80bn, including $40bn from non-oil based products. Pakistan’s trade with Iran was around $1.5bn 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 megawatts of electricity from Iran and negotiations for additional 100MW were also under way.

Information committee meeting

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting has directed the ministry to submit all draft legislations approved by the federal cabinet pertaining to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Press Information Depart­ment (PID), Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) and other related acts in the next meeting for consideration.

The directive came from the committee headed by Javaria Zafar Aheer after the secretary of information briefed members on the matters raised by some MNAs regarding “increasing obscenity on electronic/print media”.

The secretary apprised the committee that Pemra was not a censoring body, however, in order to monitor the transmission of private satellite TV channel licensees, a state of the art monitoring system had been established. At present, she said, Pemra was monitoring contents of all its licensed satellite TV channels. In case, any channel airs immoral, obscene or objectionable content in violation of laws, rules and code of conduct, action is taken against the violator as per Pemra laws. Moreover, the secretary said, Pemra had issued various guidelines to satellite TV channels on drama, morning shows and Ramazan transmission, etc.

The committee members were of the view that a proper legislation should be made to prohibit all licensees from propagating obscenity and indecency through their programmes and advertisements.

Federal Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said the legislation had been completed and approved by the federal cabinet.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2023

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