Pakistan snubs US warning on Iran pipeline

Published: March 2, 2012

Gas pipeline in Pakistan's interest, ample win-win opportunities among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD/MULTAN: 

Pakistan reasserted its firm resolve and commitment to cooperation with Iran, particularly in the energy sector, as the US renewed its opposition for the multibillion dollar Iran-Pakistan (I-P) gas pipeline project yet again — this time more subtly through its consulate general in Lahore.

“We are a sovereign country and we will do whatever is in the interest of Pakistan,” Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said while responding to a question on “Prime Minister Online,” a programme hosted by Pakistan Television and Waqt News.

The prime minister said that while Pakistan wants to expand ties with the US on the basis of mutual interest and respect, the US should refrain from interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs.

Earlier, a more direct Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said projects with Iran were in the national interest of Pakistan and will be completed irrespective of any external pressures.

“All of these projects are in Pakistan’s national interest and will be pursued and completed irrespective of any extraneous considerations,” the foreign minister said at a press conference at the Foreign Office.

“As far as our bilateral relations and co-operation is concerned, we do not make it contingent on views and policies of any third country.

“We cannot afford to be selective. [However], we want to add the element of credibility with the US,” said Khar.

Her reaction came just a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a congressional subcommittee that Pakistan risked facing economic sanctions if it continued its plans for the pipeline.

Clinton said that embarking on the construction of an I-P pipeline is in violation of the Iran Sanctions Act. However, Khar rejected the assertion, saying: “All friends of Pakistan must understand our energy needs”.

She did not, however, explain how Pakistan would respond if the US did penalise Islamabad in case it went ahead with the project.

“We’ll cross the bridge when it comes,” Khar said.

‘Focus on domestic sources’

Earlier in the day, while addressing industrialists and the business community in Multan Chamber of Commerce, Nina Maria, the US consulate general in Lahore said: “Pakistan should better find solutions domestically for their energy crisis than going for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.”

Emphasising on alternative sources of energy, Maria said that the US government has donated $15 million for thermal power stations which will be constructed in Muzaffargarh. The project would generate about 1,400 megawatts of electricity and will be completed in November 2012.

The US consulate general was of the view that the pipeline was three years away from being completed and it wasn’t something that Pakistan had to move on immediately.

“You have other domestic programmes which can be easily upgraded. You can work on them with co-ordination from us before considering the I-P gas pipeline to alleviate the country’s energy woes.

“Ultimately Pakistan will have to solve its own problems and find its own answers,” said Maria.

Discussing Pakistan’s relations with its neighbours, she said: “Pakistan needs to decide its policy and its relations with its neighbouring countries and whether it wants them to be friends or foes. We are ready to give assistance.

“The US and Pakistan’s civil-military leaderships are in constant contact with each other on the policy matters.”

Normalising trade with India

Meanwhile, the foreign minister said that Cabinet’s decision to liberalise trade with India would be “mutually beneficial” for both the countries.

However, in an attempt to pacify certain groups and rightwing parties on the issue of granting most favoured nation (MFN) status to India, Khar insisted that the decision must not be construed as “dilution” of Pakistan’s principled stance on the longstanding issue of Kashmir.

She argued that normalising trade and economic relations with India would hopefully pave way for conditions leading to the resolution of all contentious disputes between the two countries.

“India is exceptionally keen for result-oriented talks with Pakistan,” she stated.

Meanwhile, regarding the Afghan reconciliation process, Khar maintained that Pakistan would support an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-driven reconciliation process.

She said Islamabad has no desire to interfere in the internal matters of Afghanistan. “All countries must adhere to this principle.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (37)

  • Zakir Mukeem
    Mar 2, 2012 - 5:25AM

    Khar sounds like the foreign minister of a soveriegn nuclear power. Keep it up madam, we love you and fully support you. Pakistan Zindabad

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  • Ali
    Mar 2, 2012 - 5:30AM

    Allah khair keray!!! Itni Jurrat??? ;)

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  • CK
    Mar 2, 2012 - 6:12AM

    Elections are coming so party policies will change for a year. However, when the elections are over it will all be back to what it was.

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  • anonymous
    Mar 2, 2012 - 6:38AM

    Please get Thar coal out first. There is enough coal to export energy to all of Asia for many years.

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  • Cautious
    Mar 2, 2012 - 6:43AM

    Sounds great — so why haven’t you started building the pipeline?

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  • hina
    Mar 2, 2012 - 7:36AM

    Yeah, finally Pakistan is taking a stand against western bullies who have no money now!

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  • Zakir Mukeem
    Mar 2, 2012 - 8:41AM

    @Cautious:

    we are in a hurry are we?? :) every project takes time from conception to final delivery, wait for it dude it will happen.

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  • Pakistani Agnostic
    Mar 2, 2012 - 8:47AM

    Fact of the matter is, we are not Iran. Our religious and patriotic zeal will not make us independent of United States. US is a huge market for our exports and they carry out several aid-related programs in the country and not to mention, their allies in Europe. We need United States. Lets not be suicidal and think carefully before deciding on anything.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 9:06AM

    Well done , this is the way to safeguard our national interest.But most of us think that the same stance can not be taken for longer; as our previous record reveals.

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  • Anwar
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:11AM

    Both nations are bankrupt. The difference is that Iran has tons of oil but no buyers. Pakistan has neither money nor assets – except for “strategic assets” that are not worth a lot of money.
    But that doesn’t stop the two nations from thumbing their noses at the rest of the world.

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  • Ali
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:15AM

    Dear Pakistani brothers,

    Don’t pay attention to US threats. We are two Muslim friendly neighbors and we’re going to be friends forever. Zende bad Iran and Pakistan

    Ali from Iran

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  • hasan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:19AM

    Pakistan’s decision-makers keep making the same mistakes time and again.

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  • hasan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:22AM

    Reality check: the gas won’t flow (for various reasons), the pipe-line will be constantly damaged (by different parties) and there will be no money to pay for the gas. So NO GAS, but the money borrowed to pay for the pipe line will still need to be repaid.

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  • Ali
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:41AM

    Hilary is saying that if you start thinking about the interest of your country, the US will be put sanctions on you. Actually, US politicians are themselves exposing the true face of the America. It is dirty, corrupt and arrogant. Hilary is the best example of an average american.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 9:43AM

    @Cautious:
    Rome was not built in a day – so hold your horses. A bold statement like this is very daring.

    However, we must be ready for the consequences in the shape of:

    a. Sanctions
    b. Stoppage of exports to US and other European countries
    c. Stoppage in AID from these countries.
    d. Negative influence by US on IMF and other lending agencies.
    e. Visa and travel facilities
    f. Cold war like situation

    But if Pakistan and Pakistanis are well determined, I see no reasons we will overcome all such difficulties and will be more stronger than ever inshAllah.

    Regards
    Dr. Saleem Siddiqi

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 10:09AM

    All bluster.. Even China and India are reducing their Oil intake from Iran to escape from US and EU sanctions, Pakistan is a small fish. The pipeline will end up hurting Pakistan more.

    But, i would love to see the Right-wingers argue for it and pushing Pakistan towards certain economic loss. They dont care if Pakistan loses out but want to annoy the US. What genius.

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  • Fasih Khan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:09AM

    Taking Musharraf’s Courage Along on the Issue. Praise, Where It’s Due. Good Move Pakistan.

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  • ToddA
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:27AM

    To little to late, This is already 15 years past due, GET IT DONE , and move on, all the Swiss bank accts should have been to the people,

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  • MarkH
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:32AM

    As I read big talking comments I can’t help but laugh. Because I know exactly how big the tantrum actually will be once sanctions hit. It’s not even from the desire to watch things go further down the crapper. It’s that empty cocky attitude. When it crumbles under little pressure, they’ll instead start complaining about the sanctions being the root of all their problems and further forget just why they’re really in so deep.

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  • WoW
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:54AM

    @hina: ‘Yeah, finally Pakistan is taking a stand against western bullies who have no money now!”
    Aid is thought to be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. Please do not ask these poor people to do more for Pakistan.

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  • Sarah
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:59AM

    i hope this sovereignty extends to other affairs of the state as well.

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Mar 2, 2012 - 12:01PM

    Very well said and very impressive statement.Now trust Allah Almighty and stand on your own feet and never leave your stance in this regard.

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  • SAK
    Mar 2, 2012 - 12:03PM

    The Best part of PPP is
    “Its foreign policy”. Don’t talk about anything else

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  • Bee
    Mar 2, 2012 - 12:23PM

    “Pakistan needs to decide its policy and its relations with its neighbouring countries and whether it wants them to be friends or foes. We are ready to give assistance.”

    It is a decision that should be taken by Pakistan on its own terms. Why are you imposing your assitance on us?

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  • Azam Khan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 12:24PM

    IMO this is just political posturing. We have been hearing about this and other gas pipelines for years and years. Nothing concrete has materialised nor is it likely to in near future particularly during the tenure of our current non-performing government.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 1:10PM

    first Pakistan think their own needs then relations if Iran pipe line is much easy and better then why Pakistani leaders are getting pressure from outside Pakistani leaders should first think there own sovereign country.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 2:30PM

    We dislike to interfere in internal affairs of any state,
    and want in response no country or supper power to
    interfere in our inter national affairs,
    We as a nation can see what is interested and disinterested .

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 2:51PM

    Countdown has begun,
    they have take a start,
    crying, crying crying,
    notwithstanding the fact that
    there is three years distance in between.
    My God.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 2:53PM

    Gas and electricity is basic need of the people,
    we must gain such items at any coast,shouldn’t care
    what happened ahead.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 2:57PM

    Believe in justice,
    shouldn’t injustice,
    the nations believed in injustice was removed from the earth
    with order of the Allah Almighty.

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  • Anwar
    Mar 2, 2012 - 3:50PM

    @Ali: Yeah, yeah… except for this small matter of one being a Shia majority and the other being a Sunni majority.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 4:58PM

    According to the considered plan,
    in the first instance,have to get out from Afghanistan,
    then according to already hatch conspiracy , have to storm into
    Iran via a Muslim country.
    Second destruction on head.
    Nations of world should move forward and stop it with unity,
    no doubt, united is a supreme power.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 5:14PM

    Be considered national interests no need to see around.

    People of Pakistan are facing power crisis and gas crisis,they are passing through a double crisis.

    Iran is Islamic country,as neighbor he has offered gas transmission we should accept in the first instance,it is a golden chance shouldn’t missed.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 5:37PM

    Who cross the limits,destroyed.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 6:11PM

    Some time feel,Pakistan is a prime target of some power who hardly tolerating it as a
    nuclear power.

    No doubt, democratically elected government in the center and dealing with day to day affairs with credibility but turn by turn crisis being created,for example,
    memogate,
    Nro,
    contempt of court,Balochistan unrest
    and now Iran pipe line problem.

    On off and on have been saying the single super power,which has unleashed,shouldn’t interfere in the internal affair of Pakistan.
    Availability of gas is a dire need of time,Iran offered and offered has been accepted,it is not a crime or violation of international law.It is a trade between the two independent sovereign states.
    United States impose condition or sanctions but provide no alternative.
    on the other hand,people of Pakistan are taking out processions and raising slogans against the government which is already fragile and embattled .

    Let the government sign the agreement the same is better.

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  • antanu g
    Mar 2, 2012 - 7:00PM

    @Zakir Mukeem:
    dont wory….cautious is the one who would not like to see any progress on the project. It would hurt his alter ego.But perhaps Pakistani are more firm…other wise India has already backed out of the project under US pressure. Recommend

  • Sid
    Mar 3, 2012 - 12:24AM

    Lets not worry about it as the PROPOSED gas supply would not be possible at least till the next three years from now. Much expected to change by then.

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