Pakistan won’t take sides: ISPR

FM talks to Iranian, Saudi, UAE counterparts for cooling heat

By Our Defence Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor Sunday said Pakistan would play the role of a peacemaker and not take sides in the ongoing conflict between the United States and its neighbour Iran. “Pakistan has defeated and eliminated terrorism on its territory and would not allow its soil to be used against any other country,” he said talking to private news channels. The ISPR director general rubbished the claims made by the Indian media that Pakistan’s policy towards Iran had changed in the wake of resumption of the US military training programme for the Pakistan Army as mere propaganda and ‘fake news’. Islamabad and Washington had been in talks for the last four or five months over the issue and linking it as Pakistan aligning with the US was “Indian propaganda”, he said. “The Pakistan Army is a responsible and professional force, and has exercised restraint despite provocative statements from the Indian leadership.” Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor also spoke about the conversation between Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He said the Army Chief told Pompeo that the region was making progress towards peace from a very bad situation and the Baghdad incident would be detrimental to the peace efforts. “General Bajwa has an important role with regard to regional security and Afghan peace process, and Pakistan don’t want to see another conflict in this region,” he stated. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday telephoned Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif and discussed tense situation of the Middle East. During the telephonic conversation, FM Qureshi and his Iranian counterpart discussed matters pertaining to peace and security in the region were discussed. On the other hand, Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador on the back of repeated US air strikes on Iraqi soil that killed Iraqi militia fighters and Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muahndis. The foreign ministry said the act was, “a flagrant breach of Iraq’s sovereignty and of all international laws and norms that regulate relations between countries and prohibit the use of their lands to carry out attacks on neighbouring countries.” The foreign ministry said it sent an official complaint to the UN secretary general and UN Security Council over US air strikes and killing of Iraqi and allied commanders. A US drone strike killed General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, at Baghdad’s international airport on Friday. Several rockets fell on Saturday near the United States embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone which houses government buildings and foreign missions but caused no casualties, the Iraqi military said.