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Pakistan scrambles to solve energy crisis

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Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. (UPI Photo/Patrick D. McDermott) | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/6d5a5b3b2339adcc474bfa51b5a71326/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. (UPI Photo/Patrick D. McDermott) | License Photo

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 15 (UPI) -- Islamabad ordered its Finance Ministry to release emergency funds to the state energy sector to stave off an oil, gas and electricity crisis in the country.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called on lawmakers to come up with ways to avoid defaulting on foreign payments against oil supplies as the country grapples with a looming energy crisis.

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Islamabad was forced to consider international loans to help the energy sector, which is dragging on the embattled national economy. Pakistani Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin stepped down in February because of the economic turmoil.

Gilani in an emergency meeting called for the weekend release of emergency funding to help the energy sector pay its debts as several sectors faced imminent cut offs, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reports.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the Pakistani water and power minister, said utility companies were running short on natural gas.

Gilani called on top Cabinet officials to present plans for a gas pipeline from Iran as early as Wednesday.

Pakistan and Iran signed a 25-year deal for natural gas supplies in 2009 as part of an effort to advance plans for the so-called Peace Pipeline. The project, envisioned in the 1990s, would move natural gas from the giant South Pars gas complex in the Persian Gulf to markets in Pakistan and India.

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