Ex-Pak envoy urges govt to continue trade with Iran

Islamabad, Oct 24, IRNA - Former Pakistani ambassador to Iran has urged Pakistan government to continue trade with Iran despite US President Donald Trump’s sanction on the country.

Asif Durrani in his article published in ‘Daily Times’ said being a neighbor and the country which stood by Pakistan at every crucial moment, doing business with Iran should have been a normal affair.

The analyst said US sanctions against Iran are not new. He added under the D’Amato Law, the US had imposed sanctions against Iran in 1996, against companies investing more than $10 million in the energy sector while in 2013 the US vigorously followed on much wider sanctions.

He added in 2015 Iran and P5+1 reached an agreement under which the UN sanctions against Iran would be lifted. However, the US sanctions were not lifted even during the Obama administration.

“Even during UN sanctions against Iran, countries could get a waiver because of their energy needs; China, Japan, India and South Korea were the major importers of oil from Iran,” he noted.

Asif Durrani said November 4, is the US deadline for the world to cease business with Iran following which strict penalties will be imposed on individuals and companies.

He added the US may have its plans to pressurize Iran, but the latter has developed substantive resilience to withstand such pressures although the country may still face economic difficulties.

Former ambassador went on to say the US is endeavouring to cause unrest in Iran and disturb the present order in the country. He said the resulting chaos in the country is what the neocons in the US want to capitalize on which National Security Advisor John Bolton describes as “government change”.

He added there are host of factors that favour the present dispensation in Iran to face the American sanctions: geo-strategically, Iran has forged close alliances with Russia, China and Turkey to overcome the difficulties in bilateral trade, especially the export of Iranian oil.

“Secondly in the defense field Russia and China would be ready to meet Iran’s requirements,” he said.

The expert said Iran has already indicated that it would be ready to enter into currency swap agreement with countries doing business with Iran; this may be a big incentive to the countries which have traditionally maintained good business relations with Iran.

“Even the European Union has declared its readiness in doing business with Iran despite US sanctions and to use Euro as a business currency, bypassing the US dollar,” said Durrani.

He added Iran has approximately $60 billion or equivalent of this amount staked in international banks as proceeds of oil and gas which can support the country’s import bills.

“Parallel to the above factors, the Supreme Leader has encouraged the country’s economic managers to promote “resistance economy” which basically relies on domestic manufacturing,” the expert said.

He said Turkey is also a neighbor of Iran and has an annual trade of $10 billion, of which import of natural gas constitutes $7 billion. Turkey has announced to continue its business with Iran uninterrupted.

“Similarly, Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline agreement signed in March 2013, can meet energy shortages to the extent that Iranian gas can add 5,500 megawatt for which we have the production capacity,” he said.

He went on to say apart from gas, Iran is ready to supply up to 3,500-megawatt electricity which can address our immediate power shortages. “Both countries have 912 km long border with tremendous scope for border trade which can also address the problem of unemployment in the Balochistan province,” he said.

Asif Durrani was of the view not only energy trade both Pakistan and Iran have tremendous scope to be successful trading partners in many commodities and can also serve as transit hub for Russia, Central and South Asia and Europe.

“We must realize that both Iran and Pakistan have had differences in perception on regional issues but being neighbors they always stood by each other. We have withstood such pressures in the past; we can do it now President Trump’s November 5 deadline notwithstanding,” he said.


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