Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pakistan ignores US threats and courts Iran

ISLAMABAD: As the US and Pakistan struggle to patch up frayed ties, plans for a Pakistani-Iranian natural gas pipeline further threaten the fragile partnership.

Pakistan desperately needs new energy sources and has made it clear it plans to forge ahead with the pipeline to bring in natural gas from Iran, despite warnings from the US that Islamabad could be hit with economic sanctions.

''If built, [it] could raise serious concerns under the Iran Sanctions Act. We have made that absolutely clear,'' the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, told a congressional hearing last month. ''We believe that actually beginning the construction of such a pipeline, either as an Iranian project or as a joint project, would violate our Iran sanctions law.''
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Sanctions ''would be particularly damaging to Pakistan because their economy is already quite shaky'', she said.

Pakistan's leaders appear unmoved. At a recent news conference, the Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, said talk of sanctions would not deter Islamabad from increasing its co-operation with Iran.

''We cannot afford to be selective about where we receive energy from,'' Ms Khar said. Read More

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