Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used for any regional conflict: FM Qureshi
Islamabad: Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used for any regional conflict and play its role to de-escalate tensions between the US and Iran, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday, urging Tehran to refrain from any escalatory measures in response to the killing of a top Iranian general by America.
Maj Gen Soleimani, 62, the head of Iran’s elite al-Quds force and architect of its regional security apparatus, was killed in a US drone attack while leaving Baghdad International Airport early on Friday, sparking fears of a new war in Middle East.
The strike also killed deputy chief of Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Addressing the Senate, the upper house of Parliament, Qureshi highlighted the regional situation in the wake of Soleimani’s killing and Pakistan’s policy on the issue.
“Pakistan’s soil will not be used against any State, and Pakistan will not be part of the regional conflicts,” Qureshi said.
He said Pakistan was also against unilateral action and would play its role to de-escalate tensions in the region.
“Pakistan does not support any unilateral action. If there is fire in the neighbourhood, its heat will be felt in Pakistan,” he said.
Qureshi said Pakistan was asking all parties to exercise maximum restraint.
“I even urged Iran to exercise its traditional wisdom and refrain from any escalatory measures in the larger interest of the region,” he said.
He also called upon the UN to play its role.
Qureshi said he held telephonic conversations with his counterparts from several Muslim countries, including Iran, the UAE, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
He conceded that the killing of the Iranian general would have serious repercussions.
“The situation in the Middle East is very sensitive, fluid and concerning,” he said.
Iran has vowed to avenge the general’s killing, and US President Donald Trump has threatened “major retaliation” if any American targets are hit.
Qureshi warned of high-profile killings of US personnel in the region as well as disruption in oil supplies with a negative impact on the regional and global economy.
He said the situation in Afghanistan and Yemen will also be impacted if there was a war in the region.
Iraq and Syria will be destabilised further, he said, warning that Israel may come under rocket attacks from Hezbollah.
Qureshi said the Iran nuclear agreement was under pressure and the latest announcements by Tehran suggested that it would back out of the deal.
Talking about impact on Pakistan, he said it may lead to resurgence of terrorism and claimed that India may try to destabilise his country by conducting false-flag operations.
Pakistan’s efforts to use the forum of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) against human rights violations in Kashmir may also be affected in case of a war, he said.