Pakistan is not on the list of 20 countries which have been granted an exemption by the USA for dealings with Iran. As a result, Pakistan’s financial institutions, including its central bank and its commercial banks, are going to be hit by the US law when they engage with Iranian financial institutions. This is an inevitability when a gasline connecting the two countries is built, and it should have been natural for Pakistan to be included on this list, so that it could utilise Iranian gas to combat its energy crisis. The sanctions will also kick in when Pakistan attempts to pay for its gas imports. The exempt countries are those with a significant portion of their oil imports coming from Iran, and which have shown that they have reduced their dependence on Iranian oil. The US sanctions will placate the Israeli lobby, which alleges that Iran’s uranium enrichment programme is intended for a nuclear weapon. Iran has denied this, and said that the uranium enrichment is for a future nuclear power programme.
Whatever the reasons for not giving Pakistan or Afghanistan exemptions, which might include the possibility that their banks might be used to bypass the sanctions, this latest US move is an example of national interests placed above anything else. It also indicates that the USA is not inclined to show flexibility in treating Pakistan as it does Afghanistan, even though it has occupied the latter, not the former. In the same way as the USA, Pakistan must consider its own national interests, not the USA’s. It must take whatever steps are necessary to solve its national problem of loadshedding, and if that means going ahead with a project that is already nearing completion, then it must do so.