US pressures power-hit Pakistan over Iran pipeline deal

Regardless of what happens in Afghanistan, US envoy said, the United States would remain engaged with Pakistan.

US pressures power-hit Pakistan over Iran pipeline deal

The US special envoy to Pakistan said Sunday he had warned Islamabad against signing a deal with Iran on a gas pipeline, saying the US was preparing laws that could affect the project.

Pakistan is plagued by chronic electricity shortages that have led to mass demonstrations and battered the politically shaky government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

"We cautioned the Pakistanis not to over-commit themselves until we know the legislation," Richard Holbrooke, US President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, told reporters.

"Pakistan has an obvious major energy problem. We are very sympathetic to it. In regard to the specific project, legislation is now being prepared which may apply to this project," said Holbrooke.

He declined to give details, saying he was not involved in drawing up the legislation, but said, that it could be "comprehensive."

"This can range from legislation which could be so comprehensive that something like this could create a major problem for any company or country," Holbrooke said.

Iran and Pakistan last week formally signed an export deal which commits Iran to selling natural gas to its eastern neighbour from 2014.

Iran has already constructed 907 kilometres of the pipeline between Asalooyeh, in southern Iran, and Iranshahr, which will carry natural gas from Iran's giant South Pars field.

The pipeline was originally planned to connect Iran, Pakistan and India, but the latter pulled out of the project last year.

Pakistan plans to use the gas purchased from Iran for its power sector.

"Pakistan always on our watch"

This was Holbrooke's tenth trip to Pakistan since President Barack Obama appointed him special representative to the region. His visit followed a series of working groups this week, which both countries say will lay the groundwork for a new relationship.

Afghanistan was on the agenda in meetings with the Pakistani leadership, Holbrooke said, including talks on a Pakistani role in talks between the Afghan Taliban and the Kabul government.

But the United States would not support Pakistan pushing the Haqqani network, one of the strongest factions of the Afghan insurgency and mostly based in Pakistan's North Waziristan, into talks with Kabul.

Regardless of what happens in Afghanistan, he said, the United States would remain engaged with Pakistan.

"Pakistan matters in and of itself. Whatever happens in Afghanistan, the U.S. cannot turn away from Pakistan again," he said. "We are not going to repeat the mistakes that occurred - at least not on our watch -- of the last 20 years."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Haziran 2010, 16:57