Stand­ing Ground

Southasia - - Briefing -

Ad­dress­ing the House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Sub­com­mit­tee on For­eign Op­er­a­tions in Washington DC, Sec­re­tary Clin­ton was adamant and firm on the U.S decision to op­pose the prospects of an Iran-pak­istan gas pipe­line, sup­port­ing in­stead a more vi­able al­ter­na­tive pipe­line through Turk­menistan that would also al­low the U.S to avoid busi­ness with Iran.

Pak­istan how­ever, is firm on its com­mit­ment to move ahead with the pipe­line, the Ira­nian con­struc­tion of which is com­plete. Pak­istan is se­verely crip­pled by its en­ergy cri­sis and needs des­per­ate as­sis­tance. Col- lab­o­rat­ing with a neigh­bor, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, is much bet­ter rather than go­ing through a third party; an ally that could po­ten­tially sab­o­tage the project.

Clin­ton towed Amer­ica’s hard line at a Con­gres­sional hear­ing stat­ing that Pak­istan’s “shaky econ­omy” would have to face se­vere con­se­quences if the coun­try built the pipe­line and vi­o­lated the Iran Sanc­tions Act. She claimed that the bulk of fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance was di­verted to the mil­i­tary and the nu­clear pro­gram rather than be fo­cused on ed­u­ca­tion, health­care and electricity. De­fend­ing the U.S aid pro­gram, she said that the U.S was will­ing to work with Pak­istan but it did have fire­walls up.

The Pak­istani side has been mute on the sub­ject and has pre­vi­ously faced heated crit­i­cism from the U.S re­gard­ing a pos­si­ble al­liance with Iran. How­ever, it re­mains adamant and com­mit­ted to this par­tic­u­lar project.

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