. Energy News .

Pakistan mulls importing electricity from India
by Staff Writers
Islamabad (AFP) Nov 2, 2011

Energy starved Pakistan is in talks to import electricity from its erstwhile nuclear rival India to overcome crippling power outages, a government official said Wednesday.

"Talks are under way between the two countries to import electricity from India," a spokesman for the water and power ministry told AFP. "We are considering importing 500 megawatts of electricity from India," he added.

Pakistani Commerce Minister Amin Fahim, during a recent visit to India, discussed the possibility of importing electricity and boosting trade ties, the spokesman said.

Discussions were at a preliminary stage and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was expected to take up the matter with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh later this month at a regional summit in the Maldives.

Pakistan, with a population of 170 million, produces only 80 percent of its electricity needs, starving industry that has slumped in the face of recession and years of Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked bombings.

The yawning energy shortfalls frequently trigger violent protests across the country, where opposition parties are setting in motion campaigns designed to force elections earlier than scheduled in February 2013.

Last month opposition lawmakers and activists staged a sit-in outside the president's house in protest at perceived government inaction over the nation's energy crisis that sees power cuts of sometimes longer than 10 hours a day.

The protesting MPs staged a sit-in at the main gate of President Asif Ali Zardari's office carrying placards demanding his resignation.

Pakistan plans to increase its electricity capacity significantly by 2025 to address power shortages.

During Fahim's visit in September, India and Pakistan agreed to more than double trade within three years to $6 billion, set up a second trade border check post and make it easier for Indians and Pakistanis to get business visas.

The two countries this year resumed formal peace talks between India and Pakistan, broken off after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed by Pakistani gunmen.

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