Islamabad wants more energy influence?

July 11, 2011 at 9:10 AM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, July 11 (UPI) -- Islamabad is scrambling to shore up regional energy ties because years of distraction left the country somewhat isolated, an analyst said.

"The joke in Islamabad is that you might have a pipeline-i-stan in the offing," Mushahid Hussain, chairman of policy center Pakistan China Institute, told Emirati newspaper The National. "That's the future: closer collaboration among regional countries, leveraging your role, position and natural resources that many of us have and need."

Islamabad last week said it was pressing ahead with bilateral plans with Iran to build a natural gas pipeline from the South Pars gas field. New Delhi already backed out of the project, a source of ire to Western allies concerned about any economic benefits for Iran.

Washington is putting its support behind the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline, a rival to the Iranian project.

Islamabad, said Hussain, was trying to exert its regional influence as the war in Afghanistan enters a new phase. The government realized, however, that it "missed the bus by obsessing for a decade purely about Afghanistan and ignoring Central Asia."

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