Two days after the United States issued a veiled warning to Pakistan over its plan to import natural gas from Iran, President Asif Ali Zardari said on Saturday that the multibillion dollar project would be completed at any cost.
“Nobody has the power to halt this project,” President Zardari told a group of senior newspaper editors and television anchorpersons at Bilawal House in Lahore on Saturday. As a sovereign state, Pakistan can sign an agreement with any country in order to tackle the energy crisis, he added.
The US State Department said on Wednesday that Washington was providing Islamabad with alternative means to help overcome its energy crisis and to avoid sanctions. “It’s in their best interests to avoid any sanctionable activity, and we think that we provide and are providing ... a better way to meet their energy needs,” said deputy acting spokesman Patrick Ventrell.
In Saturday’s interaction, President Zardari said that he would take up the matter with US President Barack Obama’s administration. He also defended his government’s decision to hand over the operational control of Gwadar deep seaport to China, dismissing India’s concerns over the strategic port.
The president, however, called for a national consensus on both the projects, saying that if the nation is united, no external power can harm Pakistan. “Pakistani nation will own the Iran gas pipeline project,” he added.
Without naming anyone, President Zardari said that some political parties are lenient on “non-state actors”. He predicted that “non-state actors” would weaken as political parties strengthened.
Although he did not elaborate, the Interior Minister Rehman Malik has been hitting out at PML-N’s government in Punjab for, what he calls, its reluctance to crackdown on bases of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an extremist group blamed for most sectarian violence in the country.
The president also reassured that the next parliamentary elections would be held on time and nobody would be allowed to derail the democratic process. Any political party winning a majority would be asked to form the next government, he added.
Referring to one of his predecessors who has been criticised for some of his controversial decisions, Zardari said, “I’ll not become a Ghulam Ishaq Khan. I’ll swear in any government formed as a result of the parliamentary election.”
President Zardari said that former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani would lead the political campaign of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Gilani will address public rallies of the party during the campaign, he added.
About the festering Balochistan issue, President Zardari defended the Agaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package, saying his government could not offer more. He added that all political parties of the province would contest the next election.
Separately, PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi also met with President Zardari at Bilawal House. A host of issues, including the country’s overall political situation, interim government and seat adjustment between the PPP and PML-Q, were discussed.
The president is said to have asked the Chaudhrys to come up with their choice for caretaker prime minister within the next four days. PPP and PML-Q leaders would have a followup meeting within three days on the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2013.
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I see a lot of comments about Iranian gas being expensive, what is this view based on, can someone please provide references?. Trade is always to the benefit of both parties, or else onside would reject the trade. I have no doubt this will benefit the countries ecconomies, plus regional Independence in the long run.
Lets see and find out what happens Monday when the signing is supposed to take place and then in the months ahead. US leverage is weak but for a weakened and desperate country -Pakistan, it might go ahead with plans of the pipeline. Pakistan should initiate and accelerate defense collaboration with Iran to increase peace in the region. Many times the only language bullies understand is punching power and sometimes a couple of punches. An Iran with intermediate and long range ballistic missile technology would make the region safer. Additionally Iran, Pakistan, Afghanista, India and China should work together and increase their economic and culture links rather then playing into the warmongers ploys. Love, peace and happiness!
This will provide the incentive to sanction Pakistan after we leave next year. Thank you for making it so easy. Pakistan is utterly friendless in the USA now. The willingness to ignore this in the USA will be exactly Zero.
@Rex Minor: "Americans must alter their foreign policy of intervention in domestic affairs of sovereign States or should accept to be treated like the Israelis! "
How about providing the same advice to Pakistan whose assets go to Afghanistan, India, China , Iran and from time to time can be traced in UK?
Why US is putting pressure on Pakistan to cancel the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project whereas on first hand US says that we respect Pakistan's sovereignty and Pakistan is free to sign accords with any country for its energy needs' fulfillments and on the on the other hand US is raising objections and threatening Pakistan on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline projects whereas China,Russia and India are doing trade with Iran?Why US' main target is Pakistan?US leaders leave Pakistan now and stop interfering in Pakistan's extremely internal matters and let Pakistan stand on its own feet to get real,true and uninterrupted sovereignty and self-reliance so that Pakistan could be declared a real independent country in practical sense not only verbally.....
@John B: As long as Khameni rules Iran, the Americans are person non grata in the 5000 years old civilisation.. Americans must alter their foreign policy of intervention in domestic affairs of sovereign States or should accept to be treated like the Israelis! Pakistan is a sovereign country and is on course if it improves its ties with its friednly neighbours. The world should applaud peace..
@Anuj why world is so worried about us there are many problems created by world for examples kashmir and palestine can your civilized innocent world try to solve at least one baby... and dont get tylenol every night before bed.
When they build the pipeline, please report it as a news. We had enough of this nonsense news.
The politics that PAK is playing on this pipeline is very dangerous. Just to undercut the Iran gas, which is already priced high, the Importers of PAK will find a cheap gas and such cheap gas will be made available until the pipeline becomes a pipe dream. In the end, PAK will end up having to import a high priced high with no alternative.
Until the US flag flies in Tehran, pipeline is not going to happen, and for the flag to unfurl it will take an another decade. So, I am going to sleep until then.
@ Mika...even people in Somalia know the headache Pakistan causes to the world....alas! only Pakistanis are the ignorant lot not to have any understanding of the mess in their country.....you know it sounds funny to think of Petrodollar collapse..and its hilarious when it comes from a someone from a nation surviving on alms and aid....
After Musharaf khan, Zardari Bhutto is the only one who has a soft corner for the Yanks. Even the regime change trick will not work this time. The sanction regimes against the muslim countries can no longer be kept.. Zardari is the expert in financing projects; introduce solidarity tax on all services which Pakistan provides to foreign Govts including those to Saudi Arabia and Gulf Govts.
@Raj - USA: People from USA knows best for a country thousand of miles far away? We know, petrodollar collapse if everyone ditched dollars.
Ain't going to happen. You don' have the money to build the pipeline, no outside lender is willing to finance the pipeline, the concept of raising taxes or fuel prices to pay for the pipeline is unrealistic given the history of tax avoidance, fuel theft, and refusal to pay utility bills. This is just more "chest thumping" with apparently no journalist willing to ask the tough questions.
For more than one year Iran has been refusing to buy wheat from Pakistan. Iran wants high price for its fertilizer. Currency swap agreement signed over one year ago, has not resulted in a dollar worth of export/import to either country. Iran is asking for a very high price for its gas. Who is going to believe that either Pakistan or Iran is really interested in standing together and supporting each other to make this pipeline possible?
PSO has just defaulted on its international obligations. How will Pakistan pay for the gas which is priced much higher than international rates. If it does not have the money to build its section of the pipe today, how will it payback the loans plus interest that it is taking from Iran to build the pipe?
It is not possible that President Zardari starts confrontation with USA on Iran Pipeline. The whole game is to give a false impression on public for fourth coming elections. Dreaming politicians and dreaming nation.
Cut their NATO supply line and see their Uzbek dance.