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Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline a Matter of Pakistani Sovereignty

The most important aspect of the official visit to Pakistan by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif is the possibility of completing the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, since Pakistan is in great need of this important energy source. Initiated in 2010, the completion of the project has been stalled because Pakistan fears being penalized by U.S. sanctions against Iran. In fact, acting US mission spokesperson Thomas Mont­gomery warned: “We advise anyone considering business deals with Iran to be aware of the potential risk of sanctions.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch made a case for national sovereignty, despite the threats. Since the pipeline is being built within Pakistani territory, “we do not believe that at this point there is room for any discussion or waiver from a third party,” she told the media.

Despite the fact that Iran has completed the pipeline up to the Pakistani border, the Pakistan side is far from finished, although last February Pakistan’s then caretaker government decided to proceed with the agreement and approved the construction of the first phase, or an 80 km stretch (of the total 780 km pipeline) from the Iranian border to Gwadar, the new port on the Arabian Sea. Also, Iran has called on Pakistan to finish the pipeline segment by March 2024 or incur financial repercussions amounting to nearly $18 bn.

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