Shun Iran pipeline, open up to India: US to Pak

The US steps up efforts to internationally isolate Iran for its alleged nuclear weapons programme.

Lahore: The US on Friday asked Pakistan to quit
from the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project, saying Tehran was not
a "reliable partner", as it advised Islamabad to "open up" to

Urging Pakistan not to forge partnerships with Iran,
US Ambassador Cameron Munter suggested it would be better if
Pakistan focussed on another project (TAPI) to import gas from
Turkmenistan via Afghanistan.

Munter`s comments came as Obama Administration, stepped
up efforts to internationally isolate Tehran for its alleged
nuclear weapons programme.

Munter made the remarks during an interaction with
students of the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

The Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project is not a "good
idea" while the project to import gas from Turkmenistan is a
"better idea", he said.

"Iran isn`t a reliable partner. It`s your choice but we
think it is wise to open up with India," Munter said replying
to a question from a student.

Reacting to the US envoy`s remarks, Information
Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said Pakistan would not accept any
"dictation" on the pipeline project with Iran.

Pakistan would make all decisions on the basis of its
national interests, she told reporters in Islamabad.

Munter, however, made it clear that the US did not
pressurise Pakistan on such issues. Pakistan and Iran have
finalised most aspects of the multi-billion dollar bilateral
gas pipeline project. The US has for long opposed the project.

Several meetings have also been held in the past two
years on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas
pipeline project. This project has been held up due to
concerns about Turkmenistan`s proven gas reserves and the
security situation in Afghanistan.

During his address in Lahore, Munter denied a media
report that he had met cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan
and Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed
Shuja Pasha together.

"Yes, I have met both of them but in separate
meetings," he said. Munter said the US wanted to strengthen
civil and military ties with Pakistan.

The US had withdrawn some its officials from Pakistan
after army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani expressed reservations over
their presence in the country.

Referring to the issue of the secret memo sent to the
former US military chief in the aftermath of the American
raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May, Munter said it was
Pakistan`s responsibility to investigate the matter.

The envoy said the US wanted a strong Pakistan
because it was in the interest of America.

"Pakistan`s success is America`s success," he told
students, adding there was a "psychological problem" of "lack
of trust" between the two sides.

Americans and Pakistanis like each other but issues
like the war on terror get in the way of their relationship,
he said.


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