IP project still facing sanctions, National Assembly told

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Tuesday told the National Assembly that Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project is still facing sanctions and any progress on the project is not possible unless sanctions on Tehran are completely lifted.

The minister, while winding up the debate on loadshedding of gas and government’s steps to stop gas loadshedding during the winter seasons, did not give any indication of an immediate end to the gas shortage in the country.

On the IP gas pipeline project, he said that the government made efforts to move forward on the project, but progress on the project is not possible till complete lifting of international sanctions on Iran, adding that the project is pending because of the sanctions which are still in place.

About Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project, he said that work on the project was started in December last year and hoped that it will be completed in four years.

After completion, Pakistan will be able to get gas through this project, he said, adding it is important to overcome gas shortage with a view to cope with the overall energy crisis in the country.

Referring to the efforts to end the load shedding of gas, he said that various efforts are under way to meet the gas requirement in the country and the load shedding will end gradually in coming two to three years.

He said that the government has accelerated the efforts of domestic exploration of oil and gas to meet energy shortage in the country.

He said that there is 40 percent increase in the domestic consumers of gas in winter in Punjab and steps are being taken to fulfil the requirement.

He pointed out that there is 33 percent increase in the exploration and the success ratio is 54 percent, adding the process will be further accelerated. He stated that 90 new discoveries have been made in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa.

Abbasi took credit for the import of LNG, saying it is a big achievement of the government to meet the ever-increasing energy demand, adding there will be 33 percent increase in the LNG import by July next year.

He said due to the import of LNG, industry and fertiliser plants are getting supply of gas, adding CNG is available in Punjab which was suspended previously. He further said that efforts are also under way to lift ban on new gas connections, which was imposed in 2012.

Earlier, taking part in the debate on the motion moved by Naeema Kishwar Khan, the lawmakers criticised the government for its failure to end the gas load shedding in its three and half years term and called for immediate measures to overcome the shortage.

Taking part in the discussion, the ruling PML-N MNA Maryam Aurangzeb maintained that due to the load shedding of gas, it has become a serious problems for wives to maintain households, adding quarrels between couples have become a routine that also led to divorces.

“Because of the gas shedding wives are unable to prepare food on time for the husbands that lead to quarrels and even divorces,” she maintained. She questioned her own government’s measures to cope with the gas shortage, saying even it could not overcome with import of LNG from Qatar.

Earlier, Deputy Speakers Murtaza Javed Abbasi, who was chairing the house, expressed anguish over the absence of the minister for petroleum when various parliamentarians pointed out his continued absence during the debate.

Responding to a calling attention notice moved by JUI-F lawmakers regarding the “baseless” allegations levelled by Amir Liaqat, host of programme “Aisa Naheen Chalay Ga” on a private TV Channel against all party leaders including JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman of having flats in Nerawana, London, Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said that PEMRA has established a Council of Complaints which takes action on such remarks.

He said that a complaint in this regard has already been referred to the council of PEMRA. He also advised the parliamentarians to approach the PEMRA. He said that it was unfortunate that baseless allegations are levelled against political parties and leadership in talk shows, adding even sub judice matters are being discussed in these shows.

The House also rejected a private member bill “The Law Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2015” moved by Mohammad Ayaz Soomro, as Law Minister Zahid Hamid said that such an amendment can only be done through constitutional amendment.

The House referred “The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (Amendment) Bill, 2016” to Standing Committee on National Health Services for further deliberations which was moved by MQM’s MNA Kishwar Zehra.

Zahid Hamid who is also minister in-charge of climate change introduced “The Pakistan Climate Change Bill, 2016” in the House and stated that the bill will help tackle the adverse effects of climate change.

Speaking on a point of order MQM’s MNA Saman Jaffri maintained that certain candidates from the banned outfits are taking part in bye-elections and questioned the government’s ‘inaction’ to implement National Action Plan in letter and sprit.

The FATA parliamentarians also walked out from the House when the Chair declined to take up a privilege motion against the political administration of Khyber Agency for not inviting the elected members during a recent visit of the outgoing Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to the agency.

-Business Recorder