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Pakistan advances work on gas pipeline project with Iran to avoid fine: Report

File photo shows the under-construction Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. (Photo by Tasnim News Agency)

Pakistan has reportedly decided to advance much-delayed work on a joint gas pipeline project with Iran as a means of avoiding a whopping fine.

Pakistan Today's Profit Magazine carried the report on Tuesday.

According to the business publication, Islamabad has committed to "finalizing" the initial phase of the 80-kilometer-long pipeline on its soil.

Pakistan's Petroleum Division "is seeking cabinet approval" to start the project, and the board of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess "has been instructed to accelerate the financing of this initiative," the report added.

The Islamic Republic has also reportedly extended the project's deadline by 180 days until September 2024 to avoid a legal dispute with Pakistan at international tribunals.

"This extension aims to prevent potential litigation and the strain it could cause on diplomatic ties between Pakistan and Iran, as Tehran may seek legal recourse to protect its interests in the pipeline project," the report noted.

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 has already invested $2 billion in the pipeline on its side of the border.

Iran has completed its section of the pipeline, while Pakistan has yet to begin construction.

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

The United States has opposed the pipeline, saying it could violate the illegal sanctions that Washington and its allies have imposed on Tehran.

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