The Foreign Office has taken the position that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project does not violate any of the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran, and Pakistan has expressed this view in the nonpaper on the subject presented to US Secretary of State John Kerry during his recent visit. While disclosing this in the weekly Foreign Office briefing on Friday, the spokesman also expanded upon the importance of the project to Pakistan, in view of the energy crisis it faced. The Foreign Office statement gained strength from the statement of Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi while talking to the press the same day that the government was going ahead with the project, and was fully committed to it.

At the same time, he also disclosed that the proposed LNG import from India had been cancelled due to too high a price being asked. No matter how great Pakistan's wishes for good relations with its most difficult neighbour, it cannot pay a greater than fair price.

The option of Indian imported LNG was a desperate suggestion at best, given that Pakistan does not as yet have an LNG import terminal, and one is likely to be built at Karachi, not Wagah.

It is thus difficult to over-emphasise the importance of the Iranian gas to Pakistan, not just in terms of relieving the current energy crisis, but also in terms of its energy plans for the future. To sacrifice this merely to strengthen US sanctions, or to appease Gulf powers, is not really an option, and this is especially so when Pakistan is not legally bound to abandon the project. According a news analysis published in this paper, Pakistan will suffer a daily penalty of $3 million, if it does not complete it's side of the pipeline in the time specified in the contract. The nonpaper should make it very obvious that Pakistan will not sacrifice its interests to guard those of others.

The IP pipeline itself does not guarantee the country energy security, but it is a very important component. In the coming strategic dialogue, as well as during the Prime Minister's trip to Saudi Arabia, it must be made clear by government that Pakistan is not pursuing the project out of any desire to upset anyone, but to meet its own ends, and thus it should be met with no interference.