Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif this week responded to Washington’s criticism of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, saying it was the South Asian country’s right to buy gas at competitive rates from neighboring countries considering its economic crisis.

Iran PressAsia: The Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline, known as the Peace Pipeline, is a long-term project between Tehran and Islamabad that has faced delays and funding challenges for several years. The pipeline would transport natural gas from Iran to neighboring Pakistan.

Last week, the US said it did not support the pipeline project going forward and cautioned about the risk of sanctions in doing business with Tehran. Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik said last month Pakistan was seeking a US sanctions waiver for the project.

“If America tells us not to take gas from Iran and sanctions will be imposed on us, then it should also give us an alternative,” Asif told reporters on Monday. 

“If a neighbor is giving us gas at competitive rates then it is our right [to buy it],” he said. “America should view all these things in the context of our economic situation.”

Pakistan has pursued the pipeline as a way of alleviating severe energy shortages that have crippled its economy but the cash-strapped country also needs billions of dollars in aid from the US. 

On February 23, Pakistan approved the construction of a part of the pipeline amid fears of a potential $18 billion penalty for failing to complete the project on time.

Pakistan has made little progress on its section of the line for lack of funds and warnings it could violate US sanctions on Iran, which sits on the world’s largest reserves of gas. Iran has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and nearly completed the 900-km (560-mile) pipeline to the Pakistan border.


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