Islamabad, Mar 2 (ANI): Pakistan has decided to go ahead with the Iran gas pipeline project against the wishes of the US, which had been pressurising Islamabad to abandon it.
"We are a sovereign country and we will do whatever is in the interest of Pakistan," The Dawn quoted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, as saying.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, making a rare appearance at the Foreign Office weekly briefing, said pursuing energy cooperation agreements and trade with Iran was in national interest.
"Pakistan is pursuing important projects with Iran such as gas pipeline, electricity transmission and also building a more robust trade partnership," Khar said, adding that "all of these projects are in Pakistan's national interest and will be pursued and completed irrespective of any extraneous consideration".
The comments from Gilani and Khar came a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned at a Congressional testimony that Pakistan could face sanctions if it did not give up the Iran gas pipeline project.
Clinton also said that any sanctions against Islamabad, for not observing its (US) Iran restrictions regime, could further undermine the already shaky economy.
Pakistan, which is facing intense energy crisis, believes that the multi-billion dollar gas pipeline which is scheduled to become operational in 2014 is its best bet to partially ease the situation.
Most parts of the country not only face massive power cuts because of electricity shortages, but homes in some urban areas remain without gas used for cooking for several days a week.
"I think all our friends are encouraged to understand the real energy crisis that is in Pakistan. We can't afford to be selective of where we receive our energy supply from," Khar said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got a similar commitment when he visited Islamabad for a trilateral summit last month. During his bilateral meetings with Pakistani leaders, Mr Ahmadinejad was told that Pakistan remained committed to expeditious implementation of the pipeline project, 1,000 MW electricity transmission line and 100MW Gwadar power supply. (ANI)
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