In a desperate attempt to influence Pakistan to annul Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, the US State Department on Thursday said that it would be Pakistan’s interest to avoid any activity that could result in sanctions against it.
The State Department said that it would provide Pakistan with alternatives that would also be useful in avoiding any sanctions resulting from violation of US demands.
State Department’s acting deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell said that “we recognise that Pakistan has significant energy requirements but we really think there are other long-term solutions to Pakistan’s energy needs than be a client of Iran’s. We’ve been assisting as a government to contribute to the alleviation of the energy crisis in Pakistan. It’s in their best interests to avoid any sanctions, and we think that we provide and are providing a better way to meet their energy needs in some of the assistance we’re providing.”
Earlier, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday urged the visiting Pakistani president to press ahead with a much-delayed $7.5 billion gas pipeline project despite US opposition.
In 2010, Iran and Pakistan agreed that Tehran would supply 750 million cubic feet (21 million cubic metres) and one billion cubic feet per day of natural gas by mid-2015.
Islamabad has vowed to pursue the project regardless of US pressure, maintaining that gas is needed by Pakistan to overcome its energy deficit that has led to debilitating blackouts and suffocated industries.
Iran has almost completed the pipeline work in its territory, but Pakistan has yet to start construction of 780 kilometers (490 miles) of the pipeline on its side, which is estimated to cost $1.5 billion.
Sanctions-hit Iran has agreed to finance one third of the cost which would be incurred for laying the pipeline through Pakistani territory.