Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the General Debate of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in the General Assembly hall at United Nations Headquarters in New York, New York, US, 23 September 2022. EFE-EPA FILE/JUSTIN LANE

Pakistan, Iran inaugurate border market, power transmission line

Islamabad, May 18 (EFE).- Pakistan and Iran on Thursday inaugurated a border market and an electricity transmission line at the Mand-Pishin border crossing point between the two countries.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Raisi jointly inaugurated the Mand-Pishin Border Sustenance Marketplace and the Polan-Gabd Electricity Transmission Line, according to a live broadcast of the event on national television.

Through the transmission line, Pakistan will import 100 megawatt (MW) of electricity from Iran, the PM’s office said in a statement on Thursday.

A handout photo made available by Iranian presidential office shows Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi taking part in the ceremony of signing an agreement on the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway, Tehran, Iran, 17 May 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/PRESIDENT OFFICE HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

With the completion of the transmission line, Iran’s total amount of low-cost electricity to Pakistan’s Balochistan province has reached 204 MW, the statement said.

The border market, one of the six border markets to be constructed along the Pakistan-Iran border, will play an important role in the promotion of trade between the two countries, the PM’s office said.

The market will create employment for people living on both sides of the border and prevent smuggling, the statement added.

The government is working on the other five border markets, which will be opened for trade soon, according to the statement.

The Pakistani foreign ministry said that the market will “provide a thriving platform for increasing cross-border trade, fostering economic growth and opening up new avenues of opportunity for local businesses.”

The transmission line “plays a pivotal role in meeting the energy needs of the region, including households and businesses,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

“The joint inauguration is a manifestation of the strong commitment of Pakistan and Iran to uplift (the) welfare of residents of the neighboring provinces of Balochistan and Sistan-o-Baluchestan, respectively,’ it added, describing it as “a significant stride forward in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.”

Sharif and the visiting Iranian president also held a formal meeting.

The two leaders also planted saplings along the Pakistan-Iran border and inspected the border market, the PM office said.

Pakistan is currently going through an energy crisis at a time when its natural resources are depleting.

The country of 230 million inhabitants is dependent on energy imports to meet its energy demand.

Both countries had also signed an agreement on the 2700-kilometer (1,678 miles) long Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project in 1995, which was hampered by the United States’ sanctions on Iran.

Iran has finished constructing its portion of the pipeline but is awaiting Pakistan’s completion of the project on its territory, which it has to ensure happens by next year to avoid a possible penalty of $18 billion. EFE