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Pakistan should employ all legal, diplomatic tools to complete Iran gas pipeline: Newspaper

In this file picture, Iranian welders work on a pipeline to transfer natural gas from Iran to Pakistan, in Chabahar, near the Pakistani border, southeastern Iran, on March 11, 2013. (File photo by AP)

A Pakistani English-language newspaper has called upon the Islamabad government to employ all legal and diplomatic tools in order to complete the multi-billion gas pipeline with neighboring Iran.

According to the Karachi-based Dawn newspaper, the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is important for Pakistan’s energy security, stressing that Pakistani authorities should convince Washington of the urgent need to implement the project.

“The lack of a coherent official narrative on the status of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline has caused some embarrassment for the outgoing administration, while adding to the risks of a diplomatic misunderstanding with our western neighbor,” the Dawn wrote in its editorial on Friday.

The newspaper went on to point to a statement attributed to Pakistan’s Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik placed before the National Assembly, where it was asserted that Pakistan had invoked the ‘force majeure and excusing event’ clause in the agreement, effectively meaning that the project had been shelved for fear of attracting American sanctions.

It criticized Malik for acknowledging on Wednesday that the statement was the result of a bureaucratic faux pas within his ministry, and that he had not seen the policy statement submitted to the house on his behalf, while dubbing it “complete disinformation” as the force majeure notice had been given about a decade ago.

The daily underscored the need for an internal probe is needed to determine how such outdated and incorrect information was submitted to parliament on behalf of a minister, emphasizing that information on such sensitive matters needs to be thoroughly vetted before it is put in the public domain.

“It is welcome that the state is still interested in the project, and is trying to convince the US to grant it a waiver in order to complete the scheme.

“If the state plays its cards right, achieving this goal is entirely possible. After all, Turkey and Iraq continue to buy Iranian gas, while China and India also lift massive amounts of Russian crude despite American displeasure,” it pointed out.

It emphasized that Pakistani state officials "should employ all legal and diplomatic tools" to ensure the completion of the gas pipeline if they feel the project is "in the national interest."

The project, launched in 2013, required Pakistan to finish the construction of the pipeline on its territory by the end of 2014.

But the work stalled, upsetting Tehran, which has said it already invested $2 billion in the pipeline on its side of the border.

Washington has opposed the pipeline, saying it could violate the illegal sanctions imposed on Tehran.

Meanwhile, Pakistan will likely face an 18-billion-dollar fine if it terminates the gas pipeline agreement.

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