Case made for US waiver for Pakistan on IP gas pipeline

Pakistan deserves US waiver on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline to meet its energy needs and escape from impending penalty of $18 billion in case Tehran moves for France-based arbitration

By Khalid Mustafa
April 25, 2024
This undated photo shows the gas pipeline. — AzerNews

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan deserves the US waiver on the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline to meet its energy needs and escape from the impending penalty of $18 billion in case Tehran moves for France-based arbitration.


Pakistan has been a strategic ally of the US against the USSR invasion of Afghanistan and also remained a front-line state against terrorism to ensure peace in the US and Western countries, but whenever Pakistan finds itself embroiled in multiple crises, including the energy crisis, the White House has never come to bail out Pakistan, instead forcing it to join the TAPI project, of which financial closure has not been achieved even after many decades. So much so that the project has come to a standstill because of lack of legitimacy of the Taliban government on account of non-recognition of the Taliban regime by the US and other world economies.

So, Pakistan’s energy reliance on the IP gas line has increased manifold, but this project has not yet materialised because of the economic sanctions imposed by the US on Iran. The US needs to come forward and extend a waiver to its strategic ally, Pakistan, on sanctions on the IP gas line project.

This has been pleaded by an eminent energy and water consultant and adviser to the private think tank, the Centre for Research and Security Studies (, Arshad H. Abbasi, in a letter to Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States.

Abbasi built the edifice of his arguments to persuade the Biden administration in his letter for a US waiver, saying that Pakistan is heavily reliant on natural gas for its energy needs. Its gas reserves are not sufficient to meet the demand. At the same time, these reserves are depleting at a rate of 5% annually. Furthermore, Pakistan also imports expensive LNG to meet the shortfall, which is one of the main reasons for the high inflation in the country. So, Pakistan is in dire need of clean, renewable energy resources. The Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline (IPGP), which could not advance for two decades in the presence of US sanctions, could be one of Pakistan’s sources. The Inter-Governmental Framework Declaration was signed on May 24, 2009, by the presidents of Pakistan and Iran, well in advance of the sanctions imposed on Iran. Consequently, the majority of Pakistanis were shocked when Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in March 2024 that Pakistan may face US sanctions if it imports gas from Iran. This statement was further reinforced by Matthew Miller, the spokesperson for the State Department, who cautioned Pakistan on the initiation of this project despite knowing that Pakistan would have to pay Iran $18 billion in penalties for years of project delays. The 250 million people of Pakistan, a strategic partner, desperately need cheaper and cleaner energy wherever possible. A waiver in favour of this could potentially turn millions into friends of the United States. Once granted, the waiver will also nudge global finance institutions to lend funds for the project.

Abbasi also mentioned that in the 1960s, the US played a critical role in getting India and Pakistan to sign the Indus Waters Treaty and also contributed significantly to the construction of two big hydel power dams, the Mangla Dam and Tarbela Dam.