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Pakistan’s Foreign Minister will visit Iran, Saudia & the US: Imran Khan

PM Imran Khan asked his foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, to visit Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US to play Pakistan's role in defusing tensions. Pakistan has good relations with all three countries - and cannot afford tensions in the region. US top military officials and Secretary Defence had been calling Pakistani Army Chief to keep Pakistani military updated on developments.

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Pakistan has taken a clearly neutral position to defuse tensions between Tehran and Washington. Prime Minister Imran Khan said Wednesday he has asked Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to visit Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United States to tell their leaders that Pakistan was “ready to play its role for peace but it can never again be part of any war“.

It is important to note that Iran had fired multiple surface-to-surface ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq that housed American troops as a response to the US strike that killed Al Quds commander Qassem Soleimani, marking the first time Tehran directly engaged Washington’s military in the conflict. The USA and Iran are reportedly at the brink of war where, experts argue, diplomatic channels need to be revitalized in order to avoid escalation.

In a tweet shared Wednesday evening, Khan wrote: “I have asked FM Qureshi to visit Iran, KSA & USA to meet with respective foreign ministers, Secretary of State.”

He added that he had also asked Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa “to contact relevant military leaders to convey a clear message: Pakistan is ready to play its role for peace but it can never again be part of any war.”

Earlier in the day, he had expressed deep concern over the recent US-Iran tensions and called for a de-escalation between the two countries, reiterating that Pakistan would not take part in any conflict.

According to Radio Pakistan, the PM met Oman’s Minister for Endowment and Religious Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Abdullah Assalami where “he expressed deep concern over the evolving situation in the region [Middle East]”.

Read more: Iran’s retaliation to USA: Global Twitter predicts future of the world

The prime minister had made it clear that Pakistan would not be part of any conflict, saying “war is in nobody’s interest” and recalling how the country itself had suffered for many years owing to regional conflicts.

COAS stands for peace

Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa Wednesday urged US Secretary of Defence, Dr. Mark T. Esper, to “avoid rhetoric in favor of diplomatic engagement” as tensions between Tehran and Washington heighten after Iran’s attack on military bases housing American soldiers in Iraq.

A series of tweets by the DG ISPR on Twitter stated that the army chief received a phone call from Esper in which the two discussed tensions between Iran and the US that soared after the former retaliated over the killing of Al Quds commander Qassem Soleimani on Friday.

The tweet by DG ISPR said Esper told Gen Bajwa that though the US did not want conflict, it “will respond forcefully if necessary”. The military’s spokesperson tweeted that the army chief told the US defence secretary to pursue ‘diplomatic engagement’ instead of rhetoric.

The army chief also told Esper that Pakistan would like to play its part in the Afghan reconciliation process so that it does not get derailed and “the region goes towards conflict resolution instead of new conflicts”.

“Pakistan wants peace and stability” FM Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has also said that Pakistan desires peace and stability in the region and will continue to play its due role in this context.

Talking to PTV, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan does not want tension in the region as it cannot afford a new war.

Responding to a question regarding the tension between Tehran and Washington-D.C., the foreign minister urged the United Nations to play its role in the de-escalation of tension between the two countries in the best interest of the region.

Read more: Pro-Iran protesters dig in outside US embassy in Baghdad

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had given a policy statement on Monday over the evolving situation in the Middle East in the Senate session, saying Pakistan will neither allow its soil to be used against any country nor become part of any regional conflict.

Analysts appreciate Pakistan’s civil-military leadership for taking a strong neutral position and warning the world that the country is no longer ready or interested to become part of any other global or regional conflict. The policy of non-interference and neutrality are if maintained carefully, big achievements.