Can’t be dictated: FM Dar rules out US reservations on Pak-Iran gas pipeline

Published May 8, 2024
Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar addresses a press conference in Islamabad on May 7. — DawnNewsTV
Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar addresses a press conference in Islamabad on May 7. — DawnNewsTV

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar on Tuesday said the country could not be dictated and would consider only its own interests in decision-making, ruling out reservations of the United States on the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline.

Responding to a question on the project during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, FM Dar said: “We have to watch our interests, look at our commitments and the government has to make decisions while keeping Pakistan’s interest in mind about what we will do, when will we do and how will we do [no matter] what the US or other countries say.

“It can’t be dictated on us and neither will we allow anyone to use veto. Pakistan is a sovereign country and the way we respect others’ sovereignty, we expect the others to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty,” the deputy PM said.

The US has maintained that it does not support the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project from going forward and cautioned about the risk of sanctions in doing business with Tehran.

FM Dar added that the government would accordingly decide the matter.

Dar said the Iranian president’s visit to Pakistan was very productive.

To another query, he replied that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would undertake a bilateral visit to Pakistan soon and the government would receive a date in this regard in the current month.

Earlier, initial and business-to-business meetings had taken place which helped in finalising the groundwork for the top Saudi leadership’s visit to Pakistan, Dar added.

The recent Saudi delegation comprising private sector companies had termed their meetings with the Pakistani counterparts as very productive and they were very impressed with the progress made in this regard, he said, adding that the present government would facilitate such processes in the economic sector.

The foreign minister further said that Pakistan wanted stability and peace in the region and was desirous to have good friendly relations with all, including Afghanistan.

He said that in recent terrorism incidents, including the Bisham attack on Chinese nationals, reports confirmed that the masterminding, planning and triggering took place from Afghan soil.

To another question regarding restrictions on social media platform X, he said that Article 19 of the Constitution guaranteed freedom of expression and speech but was subject to “relevant laws and boundaries”.

“It does not give blanket freedom to anyone to taint and raise slur with baseless allegations against the national interests and state institutions,” he added.

Dar noted that there were defamation laws available in the country but he had seldom witnessed any proceedings on the relevant legal provisions.

FM Dar said that Pakistan played a very active and leading role over the key issues in the World Economic Forum and 15th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit that confronted the Muslim world, including an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, Islamophobia, Indian-held Kashmir and other economic related subjects.

At the OIC summit, he said called for an immediate ceasefire and opening of a humanitarian corridor, besides a two-state solution with June 1967 pre-borders overwhelmingly supported by all the members.

These assertions were made a part of the communique adopted at the conclusion of the OIC summit, Dar added.

On Islamophobia, Dar said that Pakistan underlined the need for the 57-member OIC body to adopt an effective approach towards the global issue with a “solid stance over the malicious and sacrilegious material” being circulated on social media platforms.

He said that the designation of an OIC special envoy over Islamophobia was a “positive outcome”.

The foreign minister said that he had told the summit that the alarming “genocide-like situation” in Gaza was parallel to what was happening in Indian-held Kashmir.

He said his focus was on “economic diplomacy”, adding that Africa possessed “tremendous scope” for Pakistani exporters.

The deputy PM brushed aside claims by political leaders about his role in the import of wheat as head of the Economic Coordination Committee.

The deputy prime minister categorically stated that he did not approve any summary till August 9, 2023, when the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government completed its tenure.

The minister also rejected the assumption about the dysfunctioning of the Track and Trace System, regretting that certain personalities indulged in “petty politics”.

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