Speaking in a news conference today, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Khar rejected US demands to end all energy ties with neighboring Iran, saying that the ties are in Pakistan’s national interest and will be expanded, particularly as it relates to the controversial gas pipeline.
Initially a pipeline to ship Iranian natural gas through Pakistan and into India, the plan was later revised when India backed out to include only Pakistan, ending in Multan but potentially expanding if either India or China seeks inclusion.
The US has been pressuring Pakistan for years to abandon the deal, as US sanctions are aimed at limiting if not entirely cutting off Iranian energy production from the rest of the world. Khar insisted that the deal was too compelling for Pakistan to turn down. As for US threats of sanctions against Pakistan for participating in the pipeline, Khar insisted they would “cross that bridge when we come to it.”
This points again to how difficult the efforts to isolate Iran have been, with companies spurning the calls to cut ties and Iran’s oil output so far unaffected by the sanctions. Unintended consequences continue to pile up, with food prices spiraling in Iran and industries with an existing tie to Iran suffering mightily. Still, Iran’s state-run industries, the supposed target, remain largely unscathed and if anything stronger with less private competition.