The foreign ministry on Thursday denied that Riyadh was pressurising Islamabad on the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project.
“Saudi Arabia is our important development partner. I can tell you that there is no pressure from Saudi Arabia on the IP gas pipeline project,” foreign office spokesperson Abdul Basit said at his weekly briefing on Thursday.
He was reacting to reports that a Saudi deputy foreign minister, during his recent visit to Islamabad, delivered an important message offering Pakistan alternative options to meet its growing energy demands in return for staying away from the multi-billion dollar IP gas pipeline.
The project is scheduled to complete by 2014 but its fate hangs in the balance due to simmering tensions between the US and Iran.
The US has already threatened Pakistan with dire consequences if it goes ahead with the project.
“Iran is also a brotherly country and there are no linkages between our relations with Saudi Arabia and our relations with Iran,” Basit said.
Tehran and Riyadh have a history of mistrust, posing a serious challenge for Pakistan to maintain a delicate balance in its bilateral relations with them.
“We consider both the countries as our friends and brothers and attach highest of importance in further deepening our relations with them in all spheres,” the spokesman maintained.
Peace with India
Irrespective of the tragedy at a military camp in Siachen, Pakistan wants to resolve all outstanding disputes with India, Basit said.
“Siachen is already part of the dialogue process. There is nothing new about it. As far as Pakistan is concerned we have always maintained that all issues between Pakistan and India should be resolved, especially the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
The spokesperson said Pakistan hoped that the ongoing peace process with India would be able to move beyond the confidence building measures and settle issues bedevilling relations between the two countries.
“At the end of the day, the effectiveness and credibility of any dialogue process hinges on its results. We hope that this dialogue, as our foreign minister said on many occasions, is result-oriented,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2012.