ISLAMABAD: Renowned economist and former finance minister Dr Hafiz Pasha considers Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline as the most viable and feasible project for Pakistan that needs to be completed at the earliest.

In an interview with Iranian News Agency (Irna), Pasha suggested that the IP gas pipeline should be the top priority in Iran-Pakistan relations. “This project has to be revived at the earliest because it is the most viable and feasible one for Pakistan,” he said.

Comparing with other energy projects including the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) gas pipeline, Central Asia South Asia (Casa)-1,000 power supply and Qatar liquefied natural gas (LNG) import, Pasha called IP the most suitable for Pakistan.

“The price of gas to be supplied by the IP pipeline is very attractive and it should be the top priority for Pakistan,” he stressed. “I again insist the IP gas pipeline should be the top priority in Iran-Pakistan ties; we are importing LNG from Qatar, which is quite far away and provides expensive energy,” he said.

The IP pipeline, once known as the peace pipeline, will cover a distance of 1,900 kilometres and bring natural gas from Iran to Pakistan. According to plans, initially it will bring 750 million cubic feet of gas per day, which will later be enhanced to one billion cubic feet per day.

Apart from the gas pipeline, the economist suggested, Pakistan should also try to sign a trade agreement with Iran with special focus on the export of rice and textile products and import of petroleum products and other goods.

“So far we don’t have any such agreement; we should take immediate steps to enhance trade with Iran after the removal of sanctions from Tehran,” he said. “Now new opportunities are emerging in Iran and being the neighbour, Pakistan should capitalise on the situation.” Saying that strong economic and trade ties were in the interest of both Iran and Pakistan, Pasha pointed out that the current bilateral trade volume stood less than the potential and capacity of the two countries.