Iran-Pakistan venture: Government ‘determined’ to pursue gas pipeline project, says FO

Published: December 14, 2012
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US Ambassador Richard Olson and Robin Raphel, Senior Adviser to Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in a meeting with Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Thursday. PHOTO: PPI

US Ambassador Richard Olson and Robin Raphel, Senior Adviser to Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in a meeting with Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Thursday. PHOTO: PPI

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan on Thursday denied reports that it might pull out of the multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline project amidst allegedly renewed efforts by the United States to convince Islamabad to abandon the project.

The $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project has run into repeated difficulties over US opposition because of Iran’s nuclear programme and Pakistan’s difficulty in finding funds.

“It is a project which is in our national interest and we are determined to pursue it,” Foreign Office spokesperson Moazzam Ahmed Khan told a weekly press briefing.

Khan’s reaction comes against the backdrop of recent speculation sparked by a delay in President Asif Zardari’s scheduled trip to Iran last week.

Meanwhile, following talks between senior Pakistani and US officials, Washington also offered help to Islamabad to address the country’s energy woes.

Following talks between Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and US Ambassador Richard Olson and Senior Adviser to Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Robin Raphel, the US agreed to provide $200 million for the construction of Diamer- Bhasha Dam.

According to an official statement, the US would assist Pakistan in every possible way to overcome the energy crisis. However, sources claimed the assistance is linked with Pakistan agreeing to drop its plans to import natural gas from Iran.

Furthermore, sources disclosed that the new US ambassador was making frantic efforts to ensure Pakistan stop pursuing the pipeline.

A foreign ministry official, requesting anonymity, said Zardari’s Tehran trip was delayed at the eleventh hour after intervention from the US and Saudi Arabia.

Moazzam Ahmed Khan

However, the foreign ministry spokesperson denied any such reports. “As far as I remember, we did not make any announcement regarding the president’s Iran visit. All I can say is that the visit is expected, and we are working on that,” Khan added.

Pakistan withdraws embassy staff from Syria

Khan also confirmed that Pakistan has withdrawn its diplomatic staff from Syria due to deteriorating security in the country.

“We have temporarily withdrawn our diplomatic staff, including the ambassador, from Syria and they have all returned home,” he said.

Three to four embassy staff and its ambassador were evacuated because of the “deteriorating security situation”, the spokesman said. The embassy is not closed, however, and staff will return “once the situation returns to normal,” Khan added.

More than 42,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the nearly two-year insurrection against President Bashar al Assad.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Muhammad Ali
    Dec 14, 2012 - 2:17PM

    We want to go for Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline venture. We will appreciate Saudia & USA not to bargain in this connection. We don’t want your aid and hate such aid. Iran is our brother nation.

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  • Cautious
    Dec 14, 2012 - 7:05PM

    Zardari was suppose to be in Tehran inking the deal but decided to head to Turkey to celebrate the implementation of a “hot line” and the formation of a “trade pact” between Afghanistan/Turkey/Pakistan – that meaningless meeting tells you that Pakistan isn’t serious about the IP. Perhaps an enterprising reporter will corner Zardari and ask him why he thought an Turkey “hot line” was more important than the IP project.

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  • killer
    Dec 14, 2012 - 9:20PM

    Dear Muhammad Ali Iran gas pipeline will not help in overcomming the gas shortage which we are facing unless or untill Balochistan’s law and order situation becomes good.because militants surely damage this pipeline. Pak should follow instructions of US because half development projects in Pak are doing by US Govt like famous US-AID project.Instead Pak foreign diplomats should do Some extra diplomacy with US so that US itself allow the above said pipeline.

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  • S
    Dec 15, 2012 - 4:22PM

    This is in our national interest, USA is only here temporarily whereas we have to live here.

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  • Mumtaz Ahmad
    Dec 15, 2012 - 7:05PM

    Pakistan has done a lot of sacrifice for USA, in shape of lives, economy and infrastructure. Now the US should sacrifice it ego against Iran and let Pakistan to get a good chance of improving its condition by alleviating the energy crisis. If US stubbornly remains checking it, the Pakistani people will develop more hatred against US.

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  • Njunaid
    Dec 16, 2012 - 6:32AM

    Bullies and Corrupt are fundamentally Cowards. Once you know this secret, you stand up to them and they run like Cowards!Recommend

  • FactCheck
    Dec 16, 2012 - 6:29PM

    This is nothing but PR ploy. Iran is under international sanctions, its economy is in shambles, oil exports have plummeted and expected to fall even more, its assets are frozen in the US and EU, cannot conduct any international currency transactions, China backed out of financing the Iran Pakistan Pipeline, neither Iran or Pakistan have the technology to build the pipeline and most of all neither has any of the resources to execute the plan other than Hot Air coming out of each others mouth.

    Don’t believe any of it, Google is your friend.

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  • Virkaul
    Dec 18, 2012 - 7:03PM

    @Mumtaz Ahmad: Pakistan has only gained aid and money from Afghan war against Russians. They played double game this time with US/UK and Taliban and still earned money. Entire army is financed by the USA. What kind of sacrifices has Pak made? The conflict in the ME is over control of Muslim world between Iran and Saudis (Shias and Sunnis). It is plain power game where West is also a player. Pak never had good relations with Iran, why call them brothers now?

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