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January 25, 2020

Work on IP gas pipeline project stalls

Top Story

January 25, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Energy Minister Omar Ayub told the Senate Friday that work on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project had stalled due to international sanctions on Iran; however, he declined to share further information with the House, as national interests and sensitivities were involved.

“I will share details privately as to why Pakistan has not sought exemption while India did,” he said during the question hour when Senator Mian Ateeq Sheikh of MQM-Pakistan asked why the government had not pushed for India-like exemption on the project.

Senator Muhammad Talha Mehmood had also asked a similar query.

The minister, however, assured the House that as soon as the sanctions were lifted, Pakistan will its side of the project as sufficient funds were in hand.

Senator Abdul Qayyum of PML-N had asked if Pakistan was in a position to afford the cost of the project on its own.

In a written reply, the minister said Pakistan had completed major project preparatory activities, including bankable feasibility study, detailed route survey, front end engineering and design, installation of concrete markers on the entire route, initiation of land acquisition process and NoCs from environmental authorities of Balochistan and Sindh.

Recently, he noted with the federal cabinet’s approval, Iran and Pakistan had signed an amendment agreement giving both sides further period of five years to complete the project. However, any further progress was linked to lifting of US sanctions, he added.

The House also witnessed exchange of hot words between Senator Mushahidullah Khan of PML-N and Muhammad Ali Saif, when the former rose to say that Law Minister Farogh Naseem had threatened him when he had moved some bills, which the opposition pushed for being referred to the relevant committees for deliberations and reports.

Mushahidullah claimed that the minister said ‘I would see him’. “I neither give threats nor receive. I just wonder how he is a cabinet member when his party leader has resigned,” the PML-N parliamentary leader said. He wondered what type a party he (law minister) belonged to, as once he had called his leader Nelson Mandela and later never explained it. To this, Senator Saif was quick to assert that the senator should desist from talking about his party, otherwise, a new debate would erupt in the House.

However, Mushahidullah continued to which Senator Saif said that his leader was Nelson Mandela and his (Mushahidullah’s) was George Washington, who was presently living in London. Earlier, Mushahidullah also said that once the former chief justice Saqib Nisar had called for checking the law department’s degrees, by which he meant the law minister and the attorney general and asked had their degrees been checked or not.

He claimed that the minister had fought a case on behalf of those, who had burnt 250 people, including women and children, in a Baldia factory and recalled how 47 were gunned down on May 12 in Karachi and lawyers were set ablaze.

Leader of the House Syed Shibli Faraz managed to bring the tempers down when he clarified that the law minister had not given threat to Mushahidullah; he had just talked in the context of an agreement with the opposition on the bills relating to the armed forces and expected cooperation on other bills as well.

Replying to a question, Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan said there were 12 exploration blocks in deep and ultra-deep sea, which would be granted after security clearance from the Ministry of Defence that hopefully would be given shortly.

To a question by PTI’s Senator Seemee Ezdi about the number of cases pending with the civil courts of Islamabad, Islamabad High Court and the Supreme Court for the last five years, the law minister in a written reply said the information about the number of pending cases was not being maintained by the Law and Justice Department.

Therefore, he added, the registrars of Supreme Court, Islamabad High Court and Law and Justice Commission had been requested to furnish the same on December 02 last year and in response, the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan was of the view that the required information was not within the ambit of that secretariat, whereas the replies of the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court were being still awaited.

The energy minister in response to a question from PPP Senator Moula Bux Chandio said that 10 retired army personnel were working as executives in the SNGPL on contract, including one brigadier, four majors and five Lt. Cols.