A clever stance


n the emerging volatile situation, in the region the ruling leadership of Pakistan has taken clear and sagacious stance of staying neutral in the prevailing belligerent situation between Iran, the United States as the tension in the Middle East seems to be rising. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quershi has apprised the foreign ministers of Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey in telephone conversation about this neutral position. He has also briefed Senate on the mounting tension in the Middle East in the aftermath of US drone strike that killed top Iranian military Commander Qasem Solemani. Comparing it with past such actions, Shah Mehmood Quershi told the upper house that General Solemani assassination will have greater repercussion than the killing of Alqaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011 and of militant Islamic State leader Abu Bakar Baghdadi in 2019. Director General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor has also made it clear that Pakistan’s soil would not be allowed to be used against anyone and it would not take side in the conflict between the US and Iran as neutrality will provide a diplomatic space for performing a role of peace maker. President Donald Trump has not ruled out the possibility of further actions and has threatened to use new high-tech offensive weapons against Iran if it attacks US military bases. He has made known his intention of air strikes on 52 targets in Iran. He has threatened to carry out further air strikes of big magnitude without seeking approval from Congress. The previous parliament had remained proactive on the crisis in the Middle East. A unanimous resolution had been adopted in 2015 in the joint sitting of the both the houses proposing to the government to maintain neutrality on the Yemen conflict. There was an impression that Saudi Arabia has approached Islamabad for a military assistance in Saudi led offensive against Houthi rebels, believed to be backed by Iran. The PML-N government had taken vague stance and it was not clear as to whether Pakistan would or would not involve itself militarily at any point. However, the leadership of main opposition party PPP had categorically opposed the possibility of taking side. In the more explosive scenario of escalating tension between the US and Iran, the leadership of opposition parties must support the unequivocal and neutral position taken by the PTI government as the present situation in the region is more dangerous than the Yemen crisis. There must be show of unity between the government and opposition.