WEB DESK: There is absolutely no doubt that the government of Pakistan’s decision to lift sanctions on Iran on 19th February 2016, would result in a win-win situation for both the neighbours. The decision was taken by an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar which discussed modalities for lifting the sanctions in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution, 2231.
According to a formal notification issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs following the meeting, this action of the government will revive economic and commercial relationships between Pakistan and Iran, including the areas of trade, investment, technology, banking, finance and energy. It was also stated that all previous notifications with regard to UN sanctions on Iran stood repealed and Pakistan welcomed the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Acton Iran had reached with the EU, China, the US, Germany, France, the UK and the Russian Federation.
To a question by this newspaper whether the lifting of sanctions will finally pave the way for implementation on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, Foreign Office spokesperson said that the SRO only provides broad guidelines and relevant ministries will examine the impact of the removal of sanctions.
While the reply of the Foreign Office was somewhat vague, it is not difficult to understand that major benefit of lifting sanctions on Iran would be clearing the way for the IP gas pipeline project held up for so long due to the UN sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear programme. It cannot be overemphasised that the said project was very crucial for the economy of the country and necessary understanding in writing and firm commitments in the past were made several times to implement the project within a stipulated time. Even penalties were prescribed in the latest agreement if the project was not completed and made functional in time.
However, Pakistan was denied the opportunity to complete the project due to sanctions imposed on Iran by the international community. Now, when the UN has lifted the sanctions, it was appropriate time for Pakistan to avail the opportunity and do the same. Needless to say that the laying of gas pipeline would go a long way in reducing energy shortages in the country and reviving the economy besides expanding exports and creating employment. The lifting of sanctions would also prove useful for a number of other reasons. At present, foreign trade and investment between the two countries is at a negligible level.
This could be increased sharply due to a proximity between the two countries and complementaries in production. Most of the smuggling of goods now going on between Iran and Pakistan could be routed properly through legal channels which would serve to enhance tax revenues. The two countries are reported to work on a strategy to increase bilateral trade to dollar 5 billion in five years. This speaks of the optimism of the two parties to maximise the potential of the new framework of free trade within a reasonable period.
Besides, free flow of trade and investment could promote more friendly relations between the two countries which would help in resolving issues, reducing tension on the borders and give our armed forces the necessary freedom to deploy their strength elsewhere. Such an outcome would be particularly welcome because of strained relations with India and Afghanistan at the moment. However, it would have been better if Pakistan had moved faster than other countries in lifting sanctions and restoring normal business relations with Iran than other countries.
Source: Business Recorder