FM Qureshi urges diplomatic channels to defuse US-Iran tensions

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ISLAMABAD (City News) – Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said that Pakistan backed principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity as enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Charter. The Middle East could not be pushed into another war and the UN Secretary General should play his role in “putting out this fire”.

The minister, in his policy statement on the ongoing tense Middle East situation, in National Assembly while highlighting the implications of the killing of a top Iranian commander in the US attack in Iraq, apprehended that the incident might destabilize the already volatile region, especially Iraq and Syria, further. The situation in the Middle East was very sensitive, fluid and concerning.

Pakistan was in the favour that diplomatic channels should be used for de-escalation of tension between the US and Iran, he stressed. “We are constantly monitoring and assessing the situation,” he said. A task force had been set up in the Foreign Office for keeping watch on the evolving situation on day-to-day basis.

“It will be disastrous and Pakistan will also face the repercussions if a new war starts in the region,” he cautioned and feared that the menace of terrorism could again rear its ugly head in the country.

He, however, made it clear that Pakistan would neither allow use of its soil against any other state nor it would become a party to the regional conflict. It could rather play a role for reconciliation, peace and stability in the region, he added.

Qureshi further said that he had talked to his regional counterparts, including the Iranian foreign minister, and emphasized on exercising utmost restraint to avoid any conflict in the region as a new war would have disastrous impact on all the regional countries.

He viewed that any further escalation in the situation would have far reaching affects as it could affect the international economy. It might also negatively impact the peace process in Afghanistan, besides prompting the Houthi rebels in Yemen to intensify their attacks on Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah to target Israel with rocket attacks.

He went on to say that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had never compromised the country’s sovereignty nor it would do so in future, adding that the incumbent government had a very clear foreign policy direction that the country’s economic development was not possible sans peace in the neighbourhood.

The minister said the Mideast tension had also impacted the Pakistani government’s efforts to unite the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the ongoing human right violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.

India, he said, might take benefit of situation to destabilize Pakistan and conduct some false-flag operations. India could also use the Mideast tension to divert the world’s attention from the grave human right violations in the occupied Kashmir and ongoing protest demonstrations across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.

The foreign minister said hundreds of civilians had been killed along the Line of Control in firing from the Indian side in recent days. He urged the international community, the United Nations, and other world bodies to play their due role in averting any conflict in the region.

He said the PTI government had highlighted the Kashmir issue at all the international forums. Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his speech at the United National General Assembly, had effectively raised the voice for the atrocities and human rights violations in the occupied Kashmir.

He said Pakistan was convinced that the solution of Afghan issue was possible only through dialogue, not through military means, and the whole world had now acknowledged it.

He dispelled an impression that China had reservations on the pace of work on China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The present government was moving fast to implement its second phase, he added.

Earlier today, while giving a policy statement over the evolving situation in Middle East in the Upper House, Qureshi said that the current situation which is prevailing in the Middle East after the killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani is grave, and Pakistan will refrain from being a party to the US-Iran conflict.

He expressed that the US solely blamed the Iran, and Soleiman for the protest and targeted him in a drone attack on Jan 3. He informed that nine people were killed in the attack including Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Paramilitary Chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. “The region has been suffering from instability for an outstretched time, and the current situation has escalated the tensions,” he added.

“We will not become part of any efforts to light a fire, nor will we allow our soil to be used against any other state as part of our policy to prevent instability in the region,” FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Senate.

“It will be disastrous if the conflict breaks out,” he added, while offering to help mediate as Pakistan has done in the past.

He went on to say that the analysts have termed the US invasion as a worrisome act. Qureshi asserted that a layer of anger and demonstration rose up across Iran and Iraq. He added that the Iranian government also convened a national security meeting following the death of their top military commander.

Qureshi further expressed that he talked to Iran and other countries in a telephonic conversation. He said Pakistan will present its position on the current situation to the European Union (EU). Qureshi showed fear that the prevailing tensions in Mideast can go in any direction.

He also recalled that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif termed the attack as “global terrorism” and a foolish act respectively, which will escalate the tensions.

He urged the international community, the United Nations, and other world bodies to play their due role in averting any conflict in the region.

Meanwhile, Qureshi took to Twitter and said that Pakistan has a very eloquent stance on the worrisome situation as it stands for peace, stability and security in the region. He expressed: “I have reiterated this [Pakistan’s position] to all the stakeholders in my recent conversations”. He urged the active diplomacy to de-escalate the tensions as it is a need of the hour. “Violence must be avoided and Pakistan will continue with its effort”, he added.

On Jan 5, Qureshi highlighted Pakistan’s deep concern over the recent developments in Mideast in a telephonic conversation with his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE and Turkey. The Foreign Minister underscored the imperative of avoidance of conflict, exercise of maximum restraint, and de-escalation of tensions.

He renewed the call on all parties concerned to abide by the United Nations (UN) Charter and principles of international law to settle differences through peaceful means.

Qureshi also reaffirmed that Pakistan would neither let its soil be used against any other State nor become a party to any regional conflict.

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