'Pakistan won’t get embroiled in US-Iran conflict'

Experts say Islamabad has set certain red lines including not allowing its soil to be used against Iran

Kamran Yousaf January 05, 2020
Experts say Islamabad has set certain red lines including not allowing its soil to be used against Iran. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: As the Middle East crises took turn for the worst on Friday after the US assassinated one of the top Iranian generals, Pakistani authorities, responsible for crafting the country’s strategy, immediately went to the drawing board to discuss different options.

While in-house consultations continue, the decision makers have already arrived at the conclusion that Pakistan will not get embroiled in the ongoing US-Iran conflict. Also Pakistan has set certain red lines and one of the red lines includes not allowing its soil to be used against Iran. If Pakistan were to play any role that would be one for seeking de-escalation and peace in the region.

Speaking to a private news channel, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general made it abundantly clear that Pakistan will not become party to the ongoing regional tensions in what appears to be a policy statement laying down the country’s approach.

“Pakistan will not be a party to anyone or anything but will be a partner of peace and peace alone,” he said.

Pakistan is partner for peace - and peace alone: DG ISPR

The statement by DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, according to observers and defense analysts, is significant against the backdrop of brewing tensions in the Middle East after the US killed Major General Qassem Solemani in drone strikes on Friday.

Soleimani was the head of Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRCG). He was considered the most powerful figure in Iran after the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.

The unprecedented move by the Trump administration has put the region on the cusp of a major conflict that will surely impact Pakistan as well as other countries.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's telephone to Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday night triggered widespread speculations that Washington was seeking Pakistan’s cooperation against Iran.

However, the chief military spokesperson dismissed such speculations. Maj-Gen Ghafoor, while quoting both Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa, made it clear that Pakistan would not allow its territory to be used against any country.

Although, the DG ISPR didn't say it explicitly, many observers interpreted his statement as a clear announcement by Pakistan not to become party to the ongoing tensions in the Middle East.

"Pakistan stands for peace and is making all-out efforts for regional peace,” he said. The army spokesperson noted that Islamabad played a significant role in the Afghan peace process but the regional situation had changed due to Soleimani’s assassination.

He said the army chief had emphasised on reducing regional tensions in his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after the attack. Gen Qamar stressed that tensions between Tehran and Washington should de-escalate as the region could not bear the brunt of another war, he added.

The DG ISPR also dispelled speculations that the US decision to restore military training program for Pakistan had anything to do with ongoing tensions in the Middle East.

COAS calls for ‘maximum restraint’ after Iranian general’s killing by US

Maj-Gen Ghafoor said Pakistan and the US had been discussing this issue for months and linking it with the current regional tensions was nothing but a propaganda being advanced by India. He advised media and public to pay attention only to the statements coming from an authentic source.

Giving context to the DG ISPR’s statement, Lt General (retd) Amjad Shoaib said the US might be seeking Pakistan’s help against Iran as it did against Afghan Taliban after 9/11 attacks. However, he made it clear that there was difference between extending support to US against Afghan invasion than joining hands with Washington against Iran.

Gen Shoaib said there was no question of Pakistan allowing US to use its air space or air bases against Iran. "No one in Pakistan will accept such a decision," he maintained.

He further said the US in any case did not need Pakistan’s help since it had military bases in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar and even it had deployed an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea.

A senior official told The Express Tribune that Pakistan would continue to seek de-escalation in tensions in the region.

The official said the army chief conveyed the same message to Secretary Pompeo that all parties must strive for defusing the explosive situation in the Middle East.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ