Call for national debate on risks associated with pipeline project


Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) on Friday called for a national debate on risks associated with the Iran pipeline project.

We doubt will and ability of the government to ensure import of natural gas from Iran through a controversial pipeline, said Farida Rashid, President IWCCI.

Government claims to relieve country of energy crisis by importing natural gas from Iran, the quickest and cheapest way to fulfil our energy needs, remained confined to statements over the years, she said.

Speaking to women entrepreneurs, she said that in December 2012, President Zardari unexpectedly cancelled a trip to Iran due to US opposition to the project but now government has been issuing statements of rejecting US pressure days before dissolution of assemblies.

She said that all the statements of politicians claiming to reject US pressure on pipeline from gas surplus Iran are aimed at gaining popularity as country remained ill prepared to face US confrontation.

What took government to become aware of the political and economic risks posed by chronic power and gas shortages after five years of rule, asked Farida Rashid.

Why government did not initiate the project soon after coming to power which would have disallowed energy issue to undermine the countrys stability, helped revive economy and saved millions of jobs, she questioned.

Farida Rashid said that US would never allow Iran to increase its presence and influence and boost foreign exchange reserves at a time when west has imposed tighter sanctions on Tehran even if it means crumbling Pakistans economy, a long-time American ally.

Government should clarify how it would deal with tough US sanctions when country is heading towards a default due to mismanagement and corruption, she said.

We are facing a highly unstable balance of payment situation, forex reserves are at unsatisfactory level and government is unable to pay for imports for over sixty days which necessitates entering into a stand-by agreement with IMF, she added.

President of the IWCCI called upon a national debate on pros and cons of the project at a time Pakistan needs an IMF loan of 9-10 billion dollar loan from the IMF which will be impossible without US nod, she said.

Farida Rashid said that we will never have reliable energy supply from Iran unless US stop looking at the project from a political angle and start considering it imperative for survival of Pakistan.

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