‘US pressing Pakistan against Iranian gasline’
* Senior Pakistani official says Islamabad will take ‘own decision’
Daily Times Monitor
ISLAMABAD: In another twist to the proposed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, the US is believed to be pressuring Pakistan not to push for the project with Iran, as the latter is under scrutiny for its alleged nuclear programme, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday. It, however, quoted a senior Pakistani official as saying that Islamabad would take its “own decision” on the matter.
The issue was expected to be part of the talks between Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri and his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi, who was in Pakistan on Tuesday, The Indian Express reported. “Islamabad is very keen on the pipeline project, but has not made much headway,” it added.
“We need gas and, in any way that you contemplate, the cheapest way to West Asia or Central Asia, or in any case that you consider, Pakistani territory has to be traversed. India will have to go through Pakistan,” Mr Kasuri told the paper.
“Pakistan’s suggestion to treat it as a ‘stand alone’ project was prompted by its own need for economic growth,” it reported. “Today, we know that our reserves will not be sufficient and we need the gas,” The Indian Express quoted Mr Kasuri as saying. India had said that for the pipeline to materialise, Pakistan needed to reciprocate by allowing transit facilities or trade benefits, the paper reported, adding that New Delhi was also willing to explore the possibility with Tehran of directly buying the gas from them.
As the pipeline’s fate became even more uncertain, the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries met on Tuesday to review the progress made in the first round of the composite dialogue and to take the process further.