DURING a two day high profile visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Pakistan, both the countries signed a number of important MOUs including a five year strategic trade cooperation plan envisaging simplification of customs procedures, opening more border points and infrastructure development in order to give a major boost to economic relations.
The visit of Iranian President who was accompanied by a high level delegation has taken place at a significant time after the lifting of sanctions on Tehran which has opened new avenues for enhancing bilateral economic interaction. In fact, there exists a tremendous potential between the two important Muslim countries to take their relations to new heights with greater collaboration in diverse fields. We believe, the visit will also help both the sides in building a better understanding of each other at multidimensional level. As the apparent hurdles in the way of closer relations between the two countries exist no more with the lifting of sanctions on Tehran, both the countries need to engage more closely and vigorously to restart work on some very significant projects and make up for the missed opportunities. One of the projects facing delays is the Iran Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project which was conceived way back in 90s but could not be implemented due to various factors despite its inauguration during the tenure of the previous government. Due to common border with Iran, the project is most viable option for Pakistan both financially and geographically. The project will be sustainable in terms of sufficient gas reserves of Iran while the overall cost of project is also appropriate. Given the serious energy crisis faced by the country which has badly affected our industries as well as domestic consumers, we need to immediately make headway towards the construction of the pipeline on our side as the Iranians have already completed their part. The present government has shown the necessary seriousness towards addressing the energy crisis by bringing LNG from Qatar and making progress on the TAPI project. We hope the Prime Minister will also pay personal attention towards accelerating work on the gas project with Iran. Completion of the project will also give new depth and impetus to trade and economic relations.