Struggling industrialists pin hopes on gas pipeline project

Firmly back the government in the face of US pressure.

Shahram Haq March 07, 2013
"The IP gas pipeline would help save $2.4 billion worth of oil imports every year," says APTMA leader. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

LAHORE: After bearing the brunt of chronic energy shortages in the past five years, the industrialists of Punjab are brimming with optimism about Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, hoping that the project will revive industries, more than 50% of which are either not operating or closed.

After much delay as the project has been on papers since 1994, Pakistan is going to start construction of the pipeline on March 11. Iran has almost completed its part of the pipeline.

Businessmen are little apprehensive about how Pakistan’s government and military would allay US concerns and stress that the pipeline is in the larger interest of the country as it will not only help overcome energy crisis, but will also revive industries and create employment opportunities.

“This project will prove to be the lifeline for Punjab industries, we need this badly, since the province lacks gas reserves, so we will support the government in timely completion of this historic pipeline,” said Ramzan Sheikh, a leading industrialist.

Construction work on the pipeline would generate employment opportunities and economic activities, and once completed, not only industries would be revived but also industrial clusters would be expanded, he added.

“This is the happiest moment for the industrialists, if the project gets ready according to the set timeframe, we will be able to pull our businesses out of crisis in just 12 months,” said All Pakistan Textile Mills Association group leader Gohar Ijaz.

The gas pipeline would help save $2.4 billion worth of oil imports every year, he added.

For the past few years, Punjab industrialists have been complaining about the way energy is distributed after the passage of 18th Constitution Amendment. Textile and fertiliser industries, which play a significant role in the economy, have borne the brunt of prolonged outages.

Not only the industrialists, but also household consumers hope to see a marked improvement in electricity and gas supplies after the arrival of Iranian gas, which will be cheaper than import of liquefied natural gas.

The industrialists firmly back the government in the face of US pressure to abandon the project and are ready to stand behind the state in any tough period. They believe that the pipeline is the right answer to Pakistan’s growing energy needs, pointing out that many countries are already trading with Iran not only petroleum products but also other commodities.

“Pakistan has suffered massive losses in ‘America’s war’, America should think about it, Pakistan is in dire need of this project,” Ijaz said. The textile lobby would provide every possible support to the government to avert the pressure and complete the project on time, he added.

“Dialogue is the best option to convince the US, if India can import a huge quantity of oil from Iran standing at number two despite a civil nuclear deal with the US then why not Pakistan,” Sheikh remarked.

He said the gas pipeline was the only hope for the industries and expected the government and military establishment to play their role in completing the lifeline project.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2013.

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M. N Sheikh | 8 years ago | Reply

If we can materialise this project this will quite beneficial for the present and future generation of Pakistan. USA and its allies must consider the suffering of 180 million people of this countary who have always sacrified for their political and hence expasionism gaols. Its surprising that they allow India to get energy in the form of petrol from the same countary where as denying Pakistan to have gas. What a double standard? Would anyone can answer this?

Kadeem Khan | 8 years ago | Reply

India has a government which is working for the citizens ..We have a Government which is a private fiefdom of the big Politicians ...thus we have no Natural Gas or a deal from The USA...and please donot get your hopes up ..this is but a political ploy ...No Gas anytime soon...

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