U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke offered Pakistan both carrot and stick pledging an increased civil and military assistance, but warning the nuclear-armed country against consolidating its ties with neighboring Iran. During his two-day visit over the weekend, Holbrooke announced an additional 11.1 million dollars in humanitarian aid for people affected by continuing insurgency in the tribal belt of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. The U.S. has contributed 173.9 million dollars in the United Nations' Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan (PHRP) within a year. However in a U-turn move, Holbrooke who is infamous as " bulldozer" for his iron fisted negotiations in Balkans a decade ago, warned Pakistan "not to over commit" with Iran, despite sympathizing Pakistan's severe energy crisis. Pakistan, the sixth most populated country of the world inhabiting 170 million people, was compelled to ink a 7.6 billion dollar natural gas supply pipeline agreement in March with Iran, which has the second largest reserves of natural gas in the world after Russia. "The U.S. is getting extremely unpopular in Pakistan," Defense and security analyst Major General (Retired) Jamshed Ayaz told Xinhua on Monday while commenting in the backdrop of the increasing civilian deaths in the controversial unmanned drone strikes in the northwest tribal belt of Pakistan and the war against terror that has directly and indirectly cost Pakistan three trillion dollars so far. "Economic crisis is our number one problem rather than terrorism by far," the former Defense Ministry official said while offering favorable comments to the U.S. military assistance to Pakistan which is going hand-in-glove well together. Holbrooke, who was on his eighth visit to Pakistan since his appointment to the current position on Jan. 22, 2009, strongly recommended Pakistan to hold its horses and wait for the upcoming international laws against Iran. Indicating a prior submission to the U.S. will while playing the similar tune, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi commented about the already signed pipeline agreement with Iran saying that "if it falls in the restriction than the country will not violate the international law." Local analysts observed that the U.S. had sabotaged the multi- billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline to serve the energy hungry nuclear states of the subcontinent by offering India a nuclear package deal. Now, it is cornering Pakistan signaling to give up on the already signed agreement with Iran under the garb of recently imposed sanctions on Iran for not giving up on a nuclear enrichment project. Such a possible step might put Pakistan in an awkward situation with its immediate neighbor having thousand of years old deep rooted cultural affinity and faith based ties, analysts believed. Over 30 percent population of Pakistan follows Shia sect of Islam, which drives it allegiance from Iran. A current wave of sectarian strife that had claimed several dozen of lives across the country this year by disbanded Sunni extremist groups of Jandullah, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba and others, the analysts said, has also been seen in the backdrop of Iran's commitment to be a part of the prestigious nuclear club of the world and the subsequent sanctions against it. "Timely American assistance would help ensure durable peace and stamp out terrorism, besides strengthening democratic government in Pakistan," said Iftikhar Ali Malik, Chairman of Pakistan-U.S. Business Council, while talking to the Pakistani official wire service. Malik pointed out that Pakistan's economy is suffering an annual loss of 10 billion dollars. Particularly, in the scenario where the U.S.-led war on terror is directly inflicting sever blows to the economy and tearing the internal fabric of Pakistani polity. As a goodwill gesture, Holbrooke said the U.S. would support Pakistani produces at a trade fair commencing on July 13-15 in New York. "We want to give the U.S. business community a chance to learn that Pakistan is open for business," he said. "Even if a little of the economic assistance works out, it would be great," said General Jamshed Ayaz, adding "it would be a win-win situation for both Pakistan and the U.S." (Xinhua)