Home Middle East & Turkey Iran Iran-KSA diplomatic row: Where does Pakistan stand?

Iran-KSA diplomatic row: Where does Pakistan stand?

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News Analysis |

In a joint press conference in Islamabad with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir accused Iran of “sponsoring terrorism in multiple countries of the world”.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Al-Jubeir had arrived with the Saudi delegation led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. When questioned about Iran’s accusations of sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan, he calmly said, “I think it is very strange coming from the Foreign Minister of the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism to accuse others of engaging in terrorist activities”.

While addressing his weekly press conference on Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bahram Qassem condemned Ahmed Al-Jubeir’s accusations as “totally false” and “hateful”.

Ahmed Al-Jubeir continued accusing Iran, “Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Iran has been the chief sponsor of terrorism. Iran has established terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. Iran has been implicated in terrorist attacks in South America, Europe, in Saudi Arabia and other places.” He also accused Iran of being implicated in “smuggling weapons and explosives to terrorist groups” and of “interfering in the affairs of other countries”. He further said that Iran is also implicated for “harboring the leaders of Al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden’s son” and for facilitating terrorists throughout its territory.

“The last country to accuse others of supporting terrorism is Iran”, Foreign Minister Ahmed Al-Jubeir went on to say that Saudi Arabia has also been a victim of terrorism and they are combatting violence with an unmerciful and vigilant dedication towards eradicating terrorism from the face of the Earth.

Read more: Pakistan loops in KSA into perfect alliance: India anxious & Iran…

“The Iranian regime is facing pressure from its own public, and is attempting to deflect the blame by accusing outsiders”, he concluded.

 Iran Lashes Out at Saudi Arabia

While addressing his weekly press conference on Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bahram Qassem condemned Ahmed Al-Jubeir’s accusations as “totally false” and “hateful”. As per the report by Almanar News, Qassem accused Saudi Arabia of being “the true godfather of Takfiri terrorism” in response to Saudi Foreign Minister’s accusations.

“Why do Pakistan’s army and intelligence agencies sponsor terrorist groups?” Major General Jafari had accused Pakistan of harboring militants of Jaish al Adl.

Qassem further went on to say that Saudi Arabia has given birth to fundamentalist ideologies; its actions of promoting organized international terrorism render Riyadh incompetent to accuse other states. He accused Ahmed Al-Jubeir of being a hypocrite and advised Riyadh to be answerable for the terrorism “rooted within the structure and establishment of Saudi Arabia” and the “inhumane crimes and catastrophes caused by the military invasion against the people of Yemen”. Qassem also highlighted that human rights organization have issued multiple resolutions against the “gross human rights violations in Saudi Arabia”, however, he lamented that “Riyadh is still supported by the USA and western nations”.

Pakistan’s Equation with Iran after Tehran’s Accusations

While commenting on the diplomatic developments with Pakistan after the tragic attack on the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Sistan-Baluchistan, Qassem responded that the two countries have held talks on cooperation to eradicate the possibility of terrorist attacks against Iran.

Read more: Regional rivalries threaten Iran-Pakistan Relations

The Fars News Agency quoted Qassem, “We cannot tolerate that the Pakistani government and army cannot prevent acts of terrorism staged against Iran from their soil. We are keen to ensure that our borders with Pakistan are symbolic of peace and friendship”. He expressed Tehran’s desire for cooperation from Pakistan in eliminating the possibility of terror accidents.

When asked for a comment on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s delegation to Pakistan, he denied speaking and asserted that the foreign relations of Tehran’s “neighbors are their own business” and Iran does not seek to “interfere”.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi termed the Iranian accusations on Pakistan as an “emotional reaction” and clarified that a diplomatic mission has been sent to ensure Islamabad’s cooperation in investigations.

Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s Chief of Revolutionary Guard Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari had threated Pakistan that it would have to “pay a heavy price” for collaborating with Saudi Arabia and UAE in sponsoring terrorism against Iran. “Why do Pakistan’s army and intelligence agencies sponsor terrorist groups?” Major General Jafari had accused Pakistan of harboring militants of Jaish al Adl.

Vulnerable Iran Exploited by India?

While talking to Kamran Khan on his prime time show on Dunya News, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi explained the recent diplomatic developments with Tehran on this issue. “I had a detailed conversation with the Foreign Minister of Iran, and I have clarified Pakistan’s stance to Tehran. I believe I was successful in eliminating their apprehensions,” he stated.

Foreign Minister Qureshi further stated, “Given the chaos that India has landed itself into, it is evident that it will leave no stone unturned in creating challenges and problems for Pakistan. India found the perfect opportunity with this episode (attack of IRGC), in which Pakistan has no part to play, and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is immediately sent to Tehran to undermine Pakistan.”

Read more: Saudi effort to isolate Iran internationally produces results

Foreign Minister also noted that Iran is a very “mature state” and the Iranian leadership understands the importance of friendly relations with Pakistan. Shah Mahmood Qureshi termed the Iranian accusations on Pakistan as an “emotional reaction” and clarified that a diplomatic mission has been sent to ensure Islamabad’s cooperation in investigations. He noted that Pakistan had also lent its aid in recovering multiple Iranian hostages from its territory, a process that is still ongoing.

While commenting on the strange and coincidental timing of the Pulwama attack and the attack on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard convoy, Foreign Minister Qureshi stated that he was “not surprised”. He went on to say, “I was concerned that before the election, India would undertake some kind of misadventure. On my instructions, the Foreign Secretary invited all envoys of the P-5 nations to address our concerns long before the attack occurred. It was evident to us that such an incident could take place and we are still noticing that they (India) will try to further aggravate matters and stir tensions”.

Read more: Khashoggi case: Iran slams both Riyadh and West

Tehran and Islamabad have always maintained close ties and Iran was the first country to accept Pakistan as an independent nation. In September 2016, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had expressed Iranian interests of joining CPEC, however, earlier in March 2016, former DJ ISPR Lt General Asim Saleem Bajwa had expressed Pakistan Army’s concerns on RAW’s activities staged from the “soil of our brotherly country, Iran”.

Mina Jahangir with additional input by News Desk.


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