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Pakistan launches diplomatic efforts to de-escalate Mideast tensions

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan. Photo by INP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

ISLAMABAD, Jan 9, 2020, Pakistan Today. Amid tensions brewing in the region, Pakistan has launched diplomatic efforts with Prime Minister Imran Khan directing the foreign minister to visit the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia on a “peace mission,” Pakistan Today reported.

Meanwhile, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has also reiterated Pakistan’s stance to support efforts for regional stability.

Amid rising tensions between the US and Iran in the aftermath of the killing of an Iranian general, the prime minister tweeted that Pakistan will not become part of the ongoing conflict.

The premier also asked Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa to contact the military leadership of the three countries to convey a clear message that “Pakistan is ready to play its role for peace but it can never again be part of any war”.

The PM also urged for “immediate measures” to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East in a conversation with an Omani minister.

Talking to Oman’s Minister for Endowment and Religious Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Abdullah Assalami in Islamabad, the PM expressed “deep concern” over the evolving situation in the region and underscored the imperative of avoiding any further escalation in the conflict.

The PM stressed that Pakistan would not become a party to any regional conflict, recalling that Pakistan suffered greatly due to earlier regional conflicts.

During the meeting, the premier also recalled his earlier attempts to facilitate contacts between the US and Iran as well as Tehran and Riyadh for the resolution of their differences.

“Pakistan would always be a partner for peace and would continue playing its role to defuse tensions, prevent any type of conflict, and preserve peace,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.

Speaking about the imminent visit, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: “We have started our homework and contacts are being made so as Pakistan could play whatever role we can for the regional peace.

“Pakistan believes that these tensions are not only our interest but these are not in interest of the entire region. We believe that this region can’t afford another war,” he said and added that Pakistan has been endeavouring to resolve the situation and it still desires so.

BAJWA TELLS ESPER PAKISTAN VALUES PEACE

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa reiterated Pakistan’s desire for regional peace amid US-Iran tensions, saying Islamabad will endorse all initiatives that would bring peace in the region.

The remarks were made by the army chief in a telephonic conversation with US Defence Secretary Mark Esper hours after Iran launched rocket attacks on US installations in Iraq to avenge the death of its general.

Following the strikes, US President Donald Trump tweeted “all is well” after the strikes saying that an assessment of damage was ongoing.

US Secretary of Defence Dr Mark T Esper telephoned Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing security situation in the Middle East.

“[The] COAS received a telephone call from US Secretary of Defence Dr Mark T Esper. Both discussed the ongoing security situation in the Middle East,” the military’s media wing, the ISPR, said in a statement. “The secretary expressed that the US doesn’t want to seek conflict, but will respond forcefully if necessary.”

The army chief, on his part, said: “We would like the situation to de-escalate & shall support all initiatives which bring peace in the region.”

“We call upon all concerned to avoid rhetoric in favour of diplomatic engagement. We all have worked a lot to bring peace in the region by fighting against terrorism,” Gen Bajwa was quoted as saying by the military spokesperson.

He added that Pakistan would continue to play its constructive part towards the success of the Afghan reconciliation process, so that “it doesn’t get derailed and region goes towards conflict resolution instead of new conflicts”.

EXPERTS WELCOME PEACE EFFORTS

Former director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. General (r) Asad Durrani told Pakistan Today that it was a welcome sign that Pakistan had decided to play its role for peace talks between Iran and the United States.

“I think Pakistan enjoys a special status in the comity of nations and it would be great if we can play a positive role for peace among friendly countries. We should understand that Pakistan can broker peace in the Gulf and if we could do it, it would be a welcome sign,” he said while talking to Pakistan Today.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that it was a timely initiative as Pakistan, being in the neighbourhood where the conflict is brewing, values peace and understands the costs of conflict.

“Our bottom line should be clear: US drone strikes on neighbours leaders unacceptable, while Iran needs to give a measured response to Trump’s recklessness,” he said. Senator Mushahid reminded Prime Minister Imran Khan that Pakistan cannot become a part of any new war plans of the US administration.

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