KARACHI: The gas supply crisis in Karachi has started hitting every segment of the society as a member of the city’s diplomatic community complained of facing the challenge like any other Karachiite.

The issue was discussed by Iran’s Consul General in Karachi Hassan Nourian when he shared his experiences of living in the metropolis, saying some nights it was quite challenging to cook a meal.

With a smile on his face, the diplomat shared the pain of Karachiites while discussing the energy needs of Pakistan and the recent discussion between the two countries to complete a long-delayed gas pipeline project.

Speaking at the Meet the Press programme of the Karachi Press Club on Monday, the Iranian diplomat spoke at length about challenges faced by the two countries, prospects of cooperation between the neighbouring states and the impact of Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi’s recent visit to Pakistan.

Diplomat Hassan Nourian says Islamabad showing political determination to complete Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project

“We [Pakistan and Iran] have already missed the deadline we had set to complete the project,” he said in response to a question. “There are several political and technical reasons behind such delays but at the same time we see political determination from Pakistan to complete the project.”

“The Iranian government is very much willing to cooperate with Pakistan and fulfil its energy demand. And I personally know the growing [energy] need of this country. Like all of you, I also live in Karachi and we all know how sometimes it becomes difficult to prepare a meal during night,” he added.

He said the pipeline did not come under international restrictions, according to a Reuters report.

Islamabad and Tehran had signed an agreement to construct the pipeline in 2010, but work on Pakistan’s portion has been held up due to fears of US sanctions. Iran says it has invested $2 billion to construct the pipeline on its territory. Pakistan, however, did not begin construction, citing international sanctions on Iran as the reason.

In 2014, Islamabad asked for a 10-year extension to build the pipeline, which expires in September this year. Iran can take Pakistan to international court, industry watchers have said.

The Iranian diplomat did not answer a question about the potential for Iran to take legal action against Pakistan if it did not complete its side of the pipeline this year, the Reuters report added.

‘Terrorism poses common threat’

Referring to the recent visit of the Iranian president, he said that he had met with Pakistani officials and business leaders and the two countries agreed to expeditiously finalise the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and hold the next sessions of the annual Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) and Joint Business Trade Committee (JBTC).

To a question, the diplomat said that both the countries condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and recognised that it posed a common threat to regional peace and stability and presented a major impediment to the development of the region.

“For better coordination and smooth action, Pakistan and Iran have appointed officers in Turbat and Zahedan, respectively, to coordinate and communicate to the high-ups of both the countries regarding any terrorist activity,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2024

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