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Gas pipeline: Iran agrees to waive off fine, extend deadline

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ISLAMABAD: In a major breakthrough concerning the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project, Tehran has agreed to grant exemption to Islamabad regarding the imposition of fine of $3 million per day and extend the project’s deadline.
Meanwhile, China is expected to get an important role in the project. As per the IP gas pipeline agreement signed between Tehran and Islamabad, Pakistan was to pay a fine of $3 million per day if it failed to stretch the IP gas pipeline to Iran by the coming December, while the fine payment was to become functional with effect from next January, informed petroleum sources told Daily Times on Monday. The breakthrough in fine exemption, the officials said, was achieved during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s two-day visit to Iran (May 11-12).  
“Certain amendments would be made in the IP gas pipeline agreement to this effect,” the sources informed. There were expectations that the pipeline project would be salvaged during Prime Minister Nawaz’s visit to Tehran. The prime minister had said earlier this month that he would categorically tell Tehran that Pakistan is committed to completing the IP gas pipeline project, but currently international sanctions against Iran are the main hurdle, as Islamabad has craved out a strategy to formally inform Iran that the two countries should finalise a middle course regarding expiry of the deadline for completion of the project.
The official added that a waiver, in an attempt to avoid $3 million per day heavy penalty, would also be sought from Iran, as Pakistan lagged behind in laying the 781-km-long gas pipeline on its side, while Iran had almost completed its part of the pipeline. Sources in the petroleum and finance ministries told this scribe that the high-level meeting, held between Nawaz Sharif and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani on May 11 took up an array of issues, including the penalty, extending the deadline and renegotiating the agreed gas price beside taking up the situation in Syria, Afghanistan, Middle East. The two both also agreed to focus on enhancing bilateral economic cooperation for the common good of both nations.

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