Holbrooke cautions against pipeline deal -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Holbrooke cautions against pipeline deal

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Sunday that the recent UN Resolution 1929, imposed upon Iran, in no manner stopped Pakistan from continuing with the $7.6 billion natural gas pipeline project with Iran.

Earlier, US Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, while commenting on Pakistan’s energy needs, said Pakistan should be wary of committing to the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline because he anticipated new US sanctions on Iran could hit Pakistani companies.

“First of all, the subject of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline was not raised between Pakistan and the US during the meetings that Ambassador Richard Holbrooke held in Islamabad. Secondly, the UN resolution does not stop Pakistan from carrying on with the gas pipeline project because both China and Russia ensured that Iran’s energy sector, including gas and oil, is not targeted when UN resolution 1929 was passed by the UNSC. The scope of the resolution is limited,” said the Foreign Office spokesman when contacted by The News.

Interestingly, Holbrooke in public took a different approach and was very guarded, when he told the media at the press conference at the Foreign Office on Saturday that “This is your country”. He was asked to comment on the US view about the gas pipeline.

However, on Sunday he was more forthcoming and said: “Pakistan has an obvious, major energy problem and we are sympathetic to that, but with regards to a specific project, the (US) legislation is being prepared that may apply to the project. We caution the Pakistanis not to over-commit themselves until we know the legislation.”

The spokesman said for the time being, Pakistan would wait and see what the scope of the fresh US legislation would include, and whether these would target Iran’s energy sector. Both China and Russia are interacting with Iran in its energy sector.

“I do not think the US legislation will go to this extent. But how we proceed, is again, an internal matter of Pakistan, and if the fresh US legislation hits the Kerry-Lugar Bill, then we will have to divert other funds to the project,” the spokesman added.

He said Pakistan would also wait and see what the fresh EU legislation on Iran expected soon would look like. The UN Resolution 1929 targets individuals and entities while calling for measures against new Iranian banks abroad if a connection to the nuclear or missile programmes is suspected, as well as vigilance over transactions with any Iranian bank, including the central bank.

Agencies add: Richard Holbrooke told reporters that the new legislation, which targets Iran’s energy sector, is being drafted in the US Congress and that Pakistan should ‘wait and see’.

He declined to give details, saying he was not involved in drawing up the legislation, but cautioned 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.

The US special envoy said Washington was not against reconciliation with militants, but with the Haqqani network it was hard to imagine.

“Hard to imagine,” was Richard Holbrooke’s response to reporters in Islamabad when asked if the Jalaluddin Haqqani-led militant group was reconciliable.

“But I do want to underscore that we have some very clear publicly stated criteria and one is renounce al-Qaeda and other is participate voluntarily in the peaceful evolution of Afghanistan within its constitution,” Holbrooke said. “And this is hard to see that happening, but who knows.”

Holbrooke acknowledged that Pakistan was trying to fight the Haqqani network in North Waziristan. “The Pakistanis are trying to deal with this problem, they are well aware of it and even in the area in North Waziristan there is some activity going on, but there is a lot more that could be done if the resources were available.”

Separately, talking to a private TV channel, Richard Holbrooke said corruption was not limited to a single country but had become an international problem which should be controlled.He said the whole world was confronting with the menace of corruption and it was no more attached to a single country. He urged for the need to deal with this global problem. He said his visit proved very positive and productive, especially his meeting with the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Ahmad Shuja Pasha.

About the report of the London School of Economics (LSE) in which it tried to connect the ISI with the Taliban, Richard Holbrooke said there was no reality in the report and termed it self fabricated.

Responding to a question, the US envoy said the US respected Pakistan’s sovereignty and could not think of intervening in its affairs. He said the US would never cross Pakistan’s geographical limits.

About funding to terrorists, he said they had failed to stop financial assistance to terrorists for their activities. He said the situation in Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies were two sided and complicated as the militants could move freely on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border.
Source: The News
Date:6/21/2010