Monday July 22, 2024

Gas pipeline project: A sovereign Pakistan can’t be dictated to, says Dar

“Whatever US says, we have to look at our own commitments," said Dar

By Mariana Baabar
May 08, 2024
Foreign Minister and Deputy PM Ishaq Dar chairs a meeting in this undated picture. — APP/File
Foreign Minister and Deputy PM Ishaq Dar chairs a meeting in this undated picture. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is a sovereign state and will take decisions in its own national interest and will not be dictated to, said Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar while addressing a media briefing at the Foreign Office.

He was responding to a query which referred to comments from Washington, which earlier, clearly said that it does not support a Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project from going forward and cautioned about the risk of sanctions in doing business with Tehran.

Explaining Pakistan’s point of view on the gas pipeline project the foreign minister said, “Whatever US says, we have to look at our own commitments. Pakistan cannot be dictated to. We are a sovereign country and just as we respect the sovereignty of other countries, we too should be respected. There are many complications but the government will take a decision. We will do what is in the best interest of Pakistan”.

To a query on the ongoing wheat scandal and he remarked that former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had made regarding it, Ishaq Dar clarified that neither the earlier government of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, nor the cabinet nor he while chairing the ECC gave any permission for the import of surplus wheat.

“Shahid Khaqan Abbasi participated in ECC meetings and he later resigned. According to court rulings all decisions including that of ECC have to get approval of cabinet. In last August heading the ECC I did not approve the summary to import so much wheat and this was put to the cabinet. The prime minister has constituted a committee to look into this and the report should be made public”, he said.

On the recent meetings of the opposition with US Ambassador Donald Blome, Dar clarified that it was not the government which arranged this meeting, rather the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ‘facilitated’ it. “Our government had no reservations on a request from the US ambassador to meet with parliamentarians from the treasury and opposition benches. In March, we got a verbal note from the US Embassy for these meetings and the Foreign Office took this responsibility and facilitated the meeting with the Leader of Opposition, Omar Ayub Khan, and we did it without any discrimination“, said the foreign minister.

He admitted that he had been following social media while he was travelling, and commented on a query regarding freedom of expression. He pointed out that he believed in freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Constitution but this did not translate into ‘complete’ freedom where you could abuse or provoke people to attack army installations.

“There are certain boundaries and though there are defamation laws, these are not applied “, he said. In this regard he said it was only when he sued two TV channels in London did he get relief and the accusers had to pay a hefty penalty.

Announcing the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) to Pakistan the foreign minister said though the dates have not been confirmed, the visit is expected to take place this month.

To a query on Afghanistan, Dar said Pakistan wanted peace and stability in the region and this point had been conveyed to Afghanistan with which Pakistan wanted good relations. But despite meetings with past Afghan government, today it was seen that the recent attacks on Chinese workers came from inside Afghanistan.

The foreign minister announced that he will visit China from May 13-15 for the Pakistan- China Strategic Dialogue.