Pakistan risks facing US sanctions: Daily
Islamabad, March 12 : Pakistan risks ending up on the wrong side of American sanctions on doing business with Iran, said a leading daily Tuesday.
An editorial in the Dawn said that after long delays and many uncertainties, the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline took a major step forward Monday.
"For all its potential risks, and uncertainty about where the remaining $1 billion of funding will come from, the inauguration by the two countries' presidents of the construction of the Pakistan portion of the pipeline brings with it the promise - if Pakistan capitalises on it - of preventing even more damage to the economy from the country's growing gas shortage," it said.
It noted that the existing supplies are so insufficient, and have been so badly managed, that they have severely impacted major industries, rendered consumers unable even to cook or keep warm, and driven up energy prices and the circular debt by increasing reliance on furnace oil for power generation.
"There is the risk, of course, of ending up on the wrong side of American sanctions on doing business with Iran ... and Pakistan's energy problems - together with their economic, political and security implications - are severe enough to warrant that exceptions to sanctions be made in this case.
"Pakistan should cooperate as far as possible by routing this business through Iranian companies and financial institutions that are not connected to that country's nuclear programme. But beyond that, the US must recognise that Pakistan needs to balance its own economic needs with its responsibilities as an ally," the daily said.
The editorial went on to say that no amount of imported gas will be useful unless the country "whips its energy and power infrastructure into shape".
"If they aren't tackled, power-sector failures such as transmission losses, poor dues collection and insufficient diversification away from furnace oil for power generation will continue to hold the economy back," it added.