ISLAMABAD, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- The energy crisis in Pakistan is a greater threat to national security and the economy than terrorism, a Pakistani energy minister said.
"It is a bigger menace to our economy, to our existence, than the war on terror," Minister of Power and Water Khawaja Asif said Thursday during a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. "This problem of energy, the shortage of energy in Pakistan, has crippled our economy in the last 10 years."
Asif met with Kerry at the Zero Point Power Plant in Islamabad.
Pakistan has struggled to keep the lights on amid crippling debt and a lack of natural resources.
Asif said the energy crisis is the biggest issue the country is facing.
The Pakistani government is working with Iran to build a natural gas pipeline to the chagrin of Washington, but has also expressed optimism over a U.S.-backed pipeline from Turkmenistan.
Kerry said the U.S. Agency for International Development has already added 1,200 megawatts of energy to the Pakistani grid. More could be on the way potentially, he said.
"The minute there is increased power, there will be more jobs, more economic opportunity, Pakistan will grow faster, and people will feel the difference," Kerry said. "That's something worth working for and that's exactly what we're going to do."