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Pakistan not 'in a fix' over Iran pipeline: FO

08 March, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: Islamabad on Thursday said it was not 'in a fix' over the much delayed $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project due to foreign pressure.

Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan told journalists at a weekly briefing that Pakistan was very clear on the project that it was in our national interest due to our energy compulsions and we will go ahead with it.

"We are not in a fix. Pakistan is an energy-deficient country and we are very clear that the pipeline is in our national interest," the spokesman said.

President Asif Zardari will visit Iran on Monday for the groundbreaking of the pipeline project. "President Zardari will visit Iran for the groundbreaking and it will take place on March 11," the spokesman said. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources was working out the details, he added.

On US concerns about the project, the spokesman said that Pakistan was aware of their reservations, but hoped that they will be able to understand Pakistan's economic compulsions.

"Yes we know about their concerns but hope our friends, including the US, will understand our economic compulsions," he said.

The Foreign Office clarified that there was no need to get any NOC from India for the construction of any water reservoirs in Azad Jammu & Kashmir or Gilgit-Baltistan.

The spokesman said that Pakistan's position had also been supported by the International Court of Arbitration in its verdict in the Kishan Ganga dispute.

Under the Indus Basin Treaty, India is bound to inform Pakistan before hand if it wants to build any structure on three Western rivers meant for Pakistan, he added.

To a question about Indian prime minister's allegations that Pakistan was not doing enough against terror, the spokesman said terrorism is a common threat and needs a common strategy to eliminate it from the region. "Pakistan condemns terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations," he said

On investigation into Mumbai attacks, the Foreign Office said Islamabad has repeatedly told New Delhi to provide ample evidence that could stand scrutiny in the court. "Mere statements are not enough."

He said Pakistan has even offered investigations under the mechanism available according to United Nations procedures. "Pakistan wants resolution of all disputes with India through talks," the spokesman said.

On grant of Most Favourite Nation (MFN) status to India, the Foreign Office said government is committed to its decision but the two countries have to meet the necessary obligations first.

The spokesman no talks are yet scheduled with Indian leadership during the visit of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to Ajmer Sharif on Saturday. He said the visit is personal in nature.

To a question on the five-year foreign policy of the present government, the spokesman said the government focused on improving relations with regional countries including India and Afghanistan. He said government also involved parliament in the formulation of the foreign policy.

The spokesman said there was an understanding with the US for initiation of a case against Raymond Davis for killing two Pakistanis in Lahore but so far no such development was in his knowledge. On the report of New York Times that US didn't carry out any drone attacks in Waziristan in early February, the spokesman said the ISPR has issued a comprehensive statement on this report.

End.

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