Iran gas pipeline: FO hopes US will show empathy

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday that Pakistan expected the United States would understand the country’s energy requirements.

“We know about their concerns but we expect and hope that all our friends, including the US, will show more understanding on this issue,” Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said at the weekly media briefing while talking about the groundbreaking ceremony of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project scheduled for March 11.

The ceremony, at the Pak-Iran border, will be attended by President Asif Ali Zardari and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Several heads of states of friendly countries have also been invited.

Iran and Pakistan will also sign agreements for setting up of an oil refinery in Gwadar and opening of new border crossings.

Upset over the development, the US has made verbal demarches to Pakistan both in Washington and Islamabad.

The US and some Arab countries have been trying to lure Pakistan away from the pipeline project with Iran. Pakistan has firmly stood by the project because none of the detractors had any viable alternative to offer.

Mr Khan reminded that Pakistan was suffering both economically and socially because of energy shortages.

Because the ceremony is taking place less than a week before the end of the PPP-led government’s tenure, many in Islamabad are sceptical about the project’s future after the new government takes over following the elections, expected in May.

The Foreign Office spokesman dismissed the fears as unfounded. “We are not in a fix. We are very clear about this project. It is in our national interest to go ahead with it.”

INDIA: Reacting to Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s critical statement on Pakistan’s counter-terrorism record, the spokesman said “our actions speak louder than these statements”.

Speaking in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Dr Singh had said: “We are yet to see tangible progress in dismantling the terrorism infrastructure in Pakistan and in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack of Nov 2008.”

The spat has come ahead of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s weekend trip to India for pilgrimage to the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer Sharif.

The visit has been described as a private trip and the prime minister would not be having any interaction with the Indian leadership.

Underscoring the importance of counter-terrorism cooperation, Mr Khan said: “Terrorism is a common threat and requires a common strategy and cooperation among the countries of the region.”

In his statement the Indian prime minister regretted that perpetrators of Mumbai attack, who were being tried in Pakistan, were yet to be brought to justice.

The spokesman said Pakistan needed “proof, which could stand the scrutiny of the court. Just declaring somebody a perpetrator is not enough. We will not allow our territory to be used against any country and we condemn terrorism and extremism in its all forms.”

By Dawn


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