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13 Muharram 1446  

PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi ‘resigns’ as ECC member

Sources say PML-N leader had reservations about gas deal with Azerbaijan
In this file photo, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi speaks during an interview at his office in Islamabad on September 11, 2017. Reuters/File
In this file photo, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi speaks during an interview at his office in Islamabad on September 11, 2017. Reuters/File

PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has resigned as a member of the Economic Coordination Committee, citing disagreement on buying LNG from Azerbaijan on an intergovernmental basis, sources said.

Abbasi had demanded the government to buy LNG cargo from Azerbaijan through a private Pakistani company, they added.

The development comes a day after the PML-N booted Abbasi from the party’s top echelons on Friday when the N-league announced the results of the intra-party elections on Friday.

“Those people, from within the party, who are talking against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, and pulling his legs, have no right to stay in the party,” PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said at the party’s general council meeting. But he did not name such party leaders.

“They have no right to remain in the party. [He] is working round the clock,” the party president said.

Sources added that had opposed the purchase of LNG from Azerbaijan through the state-owned company Pakistan LNG Limited (PLL). On his advice, the Petroleum Division had refused to prepare the summary.

But the presentation of the summary in the meeting at ECC on June 5 “irked” Abbasi.

On June 14, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar-led ECC gave a go-ahead for “the framework agreement between PLL and State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR).”

The decision was given ahead of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to the Central Asian state.

A day before the decision, Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik said that Azerbaijan would be supplying one LNG cargo every month at a cheaper price than the market. Azerbaijan’s SOCAR Trading will fulfil the LNG.

On February 1, 2023, Abbasi resigned as PML-N’s vice-president after PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam returned to Pakistan.

Since his decision to quit, the former PM has been active with a series of seminars organiSed under ‘Reimagining Pakistan’. He is accompanied by party mate Miftah Ismail and former PPP leader Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar.

Moreover, he has been vocal about the mishandling of the economy which has been under Ishaq Dar since the resignation of Miftah Ismail. Abbasi has called for a grand dialogue to bring the country out of the crisis.

PLL

The PLL had been importing up to three LNG cargoes per month through spot tendering conducted from time to time to meet seasonal peak demand, according to the Business Recorder. The state-owned company had been facing considerable difficulties in the procurement of spot LNG cargoes since June 2022, owing to high international LNG prices as well as Pakistan’s downgraded credit rating.

The PLL floated tenders for procurement of LNG on a spot basis for delivery in July to September 2022, however, no bid was received from LNG suppliers. The company also floated a midterm tender for the supply of 72 cargoes (1 cargo/month during 2023-28), which also didn’t attract any bidder.

Meanwhile, the PLL had also been exploring the availability of LNG volume through Government to Government (G to G) agreements with different countries.

An Inter-Government Agreement had already been signed between the Pakistan and Azerbaijan on February 28, 2017 for cooperation in the field of Energy and PLL and SOCAR Trading and its subsidiaries have been nominated to negotiate necessary contractual details on LNG project. The PLL had stated that SOCAR had offered LNG cargoes through a framework agreement under the G to G arrangement.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

ECC

Azerbaijan

LNG

LNG deal

PMLN