Pakistan concerned, Pompeo calls COAS

By Umbreen Turk

ISLAMABAD: The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Friday telephoned Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and informed him about the US action of killing Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani. Mike Pompeo in a tweet on Friday said, “Iran’s regime actions in the region are destabilizing and our resolve in protecting American interests, personnel, facilities and partners will not waver.” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) also confirmed that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa received a call from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and discussed regional situation following recent escalation in Mideast after the US killing of Iranian top military commander. The ISPR in a statement said that regional situation including the possible implications of recent escalation in Middle East was discussed between COAS Bajwa and Pompeo. The DG ISPR further said that Army Chief Bajwa emphasized on the need for maximum restraint and constructive engagement by all of the concerned parties to de-escalate the situation in broader interest of peace and stability. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa as Pakistan on Friday expressed “deep concern” over the tensions resulting from the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a US strike, urging all sides to exercise restraint. “Pakistan has viewed with deep concern the recent developments in the Middle East, which seriously threaten peace and stability in the region,” a press release issued by the Foreign Office said. “Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity are the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, which should be adhered to,” the statement said, adding that it is “important to avoid unilateral actions and use of force”. The statement urged all parties involved to “exercise maximum restraint, engage constructively to de-escalate the situation, and resolve issues through diplomatic means, in accordance with UN Charter and international law”. Maj Gen Soleimani was killed on Friday in a US strike on Baghdad’s international airport, in a dramatic escalation of tensions between the two countries. The Pentagon said US President Donald Trump ordered Soleimani’s “killing”, after a pro-Iran mob this week laid siege to the US embassy in Baghdad. Meanwhile, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to exact “severe revenge” for the general’s death. “Martyrdom was the reward for his ceaseless efforts in all these years,” Khamenei said on his Twitter account in reference to Soleimani, also declaring three days of mourning. During a session of the Senate today, members of the opposition demanded that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi appear in the upper house and brief lawmakers on the country’s stance on tensions developing in the Middle East.