ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday stressed the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria in the wake of imminent joint air strikes by the West, including the United States, to punish the Assad regime for suspected chemical weapons attack on its rebel-held territories.
“We do not comment on interstate relations,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal at the weekly news briefing when asked to comment on the military strikes being planned by several Western countries, including the US, in Syria.
The FO spokesperson said, “Pakistan’s position on the situation in Syria is based on the principles of international law, the UN Charter and the rules of interstate conduct with special focus on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.”
The cautious reaction suggests that Pakistan opposes any military action by the US or any other Western countries against the Assad regime, which enjoys the backing of Russia and Iran.
The US, France and Britain have been contemplating launching air strikes in Syria after Assad regime was accused of using chemical weapons on the Syrian city of Douma last weekend.
President Assad’s government denied the allegations while its main backer Russia warned the West, including US, against any military strikes.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump appeared to suggest that air strikes were imminent, warning Russia to “get ready” for military action. But after being criticised for apparently telegraphing US intentions, Trump on Thursday attempted to blur the timing of potential air strikes in Syria.
“Never said when an attack on Syria would take place … could be very soon or not so soon at all!” The president’s tweet read, without ruling out attacks.
Since the unrest began seven years ago, Pakistan has maintained a delicate stance opposing outside intervention to settle the Syrian crises.
A senior foreign office official said that if allegations of chemical attack were proved then Pakistan might change its stance. But even in that case Islamabad would strongly advocate peaceful solution to the lingering conflict.
India condemned for scuttling SAARC
The FO spokesperson strongly condemned India’s attempt to bring bilateral issues to multilateral forums.
“As you are aware, the Saarc Summit was regrettably scuttled by India. Indian belligerence has brought this multilateral forum to a halt, holding hostage the development and economic progress of the whole region,” he said.
“We expect to hold the already delayed summit in Islamabad at the earliest.”
The Saarc Summit was supposed to take place in Pakistan in November 2016 but India pulled out while convincing Bangladesh and Nepal to do the same.
On the current unrest in Kashmir, Faisal said, “Pakistan has and will tirelessly continue to highlight the plight of innocent Kashmiris at the hands of Indian occupation forces at all relevant forums, until Indian human rights atrocities come to a complete halt, and the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is resolved in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.”
He said, “After the recent surge in barbaric and callous killing spree by India in Indian Occupied Kashmir during the last few days, Pakistan has actively reached out to regional and global partners.”
He said Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif spoke to the foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey and Secretary General OIC, all of whom issued statements in the matter.
Also, the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and UN secretary general, through statements, condemned the killing of innocent Kashmiris.
“We will continue to carry out efforts to keep the Jammu and Kashmir dispute alive in the world’s conscience until its amicable resolution in accordance with the UNSC Resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people,” the spokesperson maintained.