Pakistan won’t take sides in Iran-US ‘confrontation’

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Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday said Pakistan would not be dragged into the escalating confrontation between neighbouring Iran and the United States, following the killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike last week.

The killing puts Pakistan in a sensitive position. On Sunday, the military spokesperson while quoting Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, had reiterated that “Pakistan will not become party to anyone or anything but will be a partner of peace and peace alone.”

“We will not allow our soil to be used against anyone,” Major General Asif Ghafoor said in an interview with a news channel.

 

The interview came two days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telephoned Gen Qamar to discuss the regional situation and possible implication of the killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport on Friday.

“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,” said the foreign minister while giving a policy statement in the upper house of parliament.

He urged both sides to lower tensions while making it clear that Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used by any sides if the conflict conflagrated. “It will be disastrous if conflict breaks out. It will also engulf us.”

Offering to help mediate between the US and Iran as Pakistan had done in the past, Qureshi said: “The Middle East was and is volatile and this region can’t afford another war. We are part of this region and when a fire erupts there, Pakistan can’t escape.”

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