News / Asia

Pakistan Reaches Out to Iran on Energy, Security

A man gauges liquefied petroleum gas in a cylinder at his makeshift shop in Karachi on April 22, 2010. Pakistan is battling a chronic energy shortage, stifling industry and angering the public.
A man gauges liquefied petroleum gas in a cylinder at his makeshift shop in Karachi on April 22, 2010. Pakistan is battling a chronic energy shortage, stifling industry and angering the public.
Sharon Behn
Pakistan is reaching out to its neighbor, Iran, for cooperation on energy and security, despite ongoing international attempts to isolate Tehran for its nuclear program. The latest talks between the two countries on a proposed gas pipeline that could aggravate Pakistani ties with the United States.

In recent days, officials in Islamabad have had talks with their Tehran counterparts on the construction of a $1.5 billion gas pipeline from Iran that would help ease acute energy shortages in Pakistan. This week, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has also signed a security deal between the two countries to tighten security along their borders.

The agreements point to closer relations at a time when the United States and the international community have imposed stringent economic sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program

Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful. But, the West fears Iran is building nuclear weapon capability.

The international sanctions affect companies doing business with Tehran, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Rian Harris said.

"We have made it clear to all of our interlocutors around the world that it is in their interests to avoid activities that may be prohibited by U.N. sanctions or sanctionable under U.S. law," he said.

Harris said the United States believes there are alternative long-term energy solutions for Pakistan, such as a planned pipeline through Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. She pointed out that Washington is funding large-scale hydropower and thermal energy projects in Pakistan to help meet the chronic shortages.

The Iran-Pakistan pipeline has been under discussion for a decade, but the past weeks have seen delegations from Tehran arriving in Islamabad to finalize the deal. Local media reports say the negotiations are still stalled about gas prices and the financing of Pakistan's section of the line.

Rasul Bakhsh Rais, a political science professor at Lahore University, says that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's efforts to complete the deal with Iran have more to do with election year politics than energy solutions.

The government, which is facing elections in the coming months, has come under heavy criticism for its inability to end crippling energy shortages around the country. There are questions about whether Iran can guarantee supplies and fixed prices, said Rais, but also concerns about the political cost of such a deal.

"How the Pakistani economy, which depends on International Monetary Fund and United States assistance, and also from European countries, how then is Pakistan going to cope with that? Therefore, this decision is very much controversial," he added.

Rais said Pakistan's political and business power brokers have no desire to estrange the international community in favor of Iran.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
February 19, 2013 9:58 PM
US policy has been short-sighted and counterproductive in Central and South Asia. It should be re-establishing relations with Iran, and
competing for contracts to invest and build infrastructure in Pakistan. This is the better way to create regional stability and prosperity, and to develop markets for U.S. products. It is not only immoral, it makes no political or economic sense to try dominate the region militarily, especially where it will cause death and devastation to the local population and bankrupt our own people.

by: Anonymous from: Canada
February 19, 2013 9:01 PM
This is in response to American stubbornness refusing to offer Pakistan a civil nuclear deal. Pakistan has no choice. This is their last resort. Hydro electric cannot keep up with the demand.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs