Press Trust of India

Khan directs Qureshi to visit Iran, Saudi, US as part of Pak’s efforts to defuse tensions in Gulf

Khan directs Qureshi to visit Iran, Saudi, US as part of Pak’s efforts to defuse tensions in Gulf
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Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US as part of Pakistan’s efforts to defuse the tensions in the Gulf region following the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike.

Khan also asked Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to contact “relevant military leaders” to convey Pakistan’s willingness for peace.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Khan said, “I have asked FM Qureshi to visit Iran, KSA & USA to meet with respective foreign ministers, Secretary of State; & COAS Gen Bajwa to contact relevant military leaders to convey a clear message: Pakistan is ready to play it’s role for peace but it can never again be part of any war.”

Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui in a media briefing on Thursday said Qureshi would visit Tehran to help defuse the tensions in the region.

Replying to a question, she said the Foreign Minister’s visit to Iran “is on the cards”. “We are working on it.”

The unexpected US strike, ordered by President Donald Trump, that killed Iran’s most powerful military commander Qasem Soleimani on Friday last brought the entire Gulf region closer to a full-blown conflict. Regional tensions remain high after Iran on Wednesday fired missiles at two bases in Iraq used by US forces in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani.

Farooqui said Pakistan is making all efforts to help maintain peace after tension erupted after the killing of the Iranian general.

“We urge that there should be no escalation from any side. All sides must exercise maximum restraint. War is in no one’s interest. Pakistan will not be a party to any conflict in the region. Pakistan will always be a partner for peace and will continue its efforts for prevention of conflict and preservation of peace,” she said.

Farooqui said Pakistan has reached out to as many of partners as possible contributing towards the collective objective of peace in the region. Certainly, Pakistan is playing its role for peace and stability in the region.

She said the Foreign Minister has established a task force at the Foreign Office to monitor and analyse the situation in the Middle East and provide its recommendations to the leadership.

“Since it is a fluid situation and requires constant monitoring, this task force has been working round the clock since the past few days,” the spokesperson said.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Qureshi also said that Pakistan would not become part of any war. “The region cannot afford a war. It is not in anyone’s interest and will impact the global economy,” he said.

Earlier, Qureshi told the Senate that Pakistan was keeping close look at the situation and would try that it should not escalate.

“Such matters need to be resolved through dialogue. The UN Security Council and the international community need to play a role in resolving tensions in the region,” he said.

According to a Pakistan Army statement on Wednesday, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper telephoned General Bajwa and discussed the situation in the Middle East.

“We would like the situation to de-escalate and 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, Bajwa told Esper.

“We will continue to play our constructive part towards success of Afghan reconciliation process so that it doesn’t get derailed and the region goes towards conflict resolution instead of new conflicts,” he said.

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