ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Thursday said that UN sanctions against Iran had no impact on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project as it was beyond the scope of the relevant UN resolutions which the Islamic Republic was obliged to comply with like all other member states.
In his weekly press briefing, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said that there was no change in Pakistan’s policy and it was working to complete the project by 2014. Asked if the recent US sanctions against Iran had any adverse impact on the multi-billion dollars project, Basit said Islamabad was examining these sanctions, adding these sanctions were related to oil and not the gas .
Answering a question about the proposed visit of Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Afghanistan, he said no date had yet been finalised. “It should be in the near future,“ he added.
He said Pakistan always wished and worked for peace and stability in Afghanistan and would keep on contributing in this regard.  The spokesman said the foreign minister would visit Afghanistan at the invitation of the Afghan side, adding that Pakistan always tried to build strong bilateral ties with Afghanistan.
As regards reconciliation in Afghanistan, he said this had been Pakistan’s top priority, adding that Pakistan had made it clear that it supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process. “We will support any effort that leads to reconciliation and political stability in Afghanistan”, he maintained.  When his attention was drawn towards the statement of US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman during his recent visit to India that the US was ready to engage with Pakistan anywhere, anytime, Basit said there was no disengagement between Pakistan and the United States.
He went on to say that Islamabad and Washington were engaged through diplomatic channels. The US ambassador in Pakistan is very active and met the foreign minister day before yesterday and our ambassador to Washington has been meeting senior officials. However, interaction at political level would have to wait till the completion of our parliamentary process which is underway to rewrite terms of engagement with the US/NATO.
Basit said Pakistan was committed to combat terrorism and shared the US objective of eliminating Al-Qaeda and militancy.
On US-Afghan Taliban talks, he expressed his ignorance saying it was important that the reconciliation process in Afghanistan moved forward with a view to achieving long-term stability in Afghanistan.
Commenting on the US plans to release all prisoners including Pakistani nationals from Bagram base in Afghanistan, he said there were 30 Pakistani prisoners and Pakistani embassy in Kabul was in touch with the US officials to ensure safe return of our prisoners.
On repatriation of Afghan refugees, the spokesman said that Pakistan was insisting on the international community including the UNHCR that they should come up with a tenable and workable plan for early return of the refugees but we were not forcing Afghan refugees to go back.
On Tokyo conference on Afghanistan in July this year, he said that Japan’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan met with the foreign minister last week and discussed the issue.
On nuclear submarine India has acquired from Russia, he said Pakistan-Russia relations were significantly improving, adding all countries should make conscious efforts to avoid an arms race in this region as it was in no one’s interest. “Massive economic development was needed to fight poverty in the region”.
Earlier in his opening statement, he shared details of President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Myanmar.
APP adds: Answering a query about Pakistan’s role for bringing Saudi Arabia and Iran closer, the spokesman said Pakistan always worked for the solidarity among the Muslim countries and have been making sincere efforts in this regard since 1947.