Pakistan won’t become part of new war now: PM Imran Khan

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Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday asked Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to visit Iran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United States to meet his counterparts, and convey a clear message that Pakistan was ready to play its role for peace, but it could never again be part of any war.

The premier also asked Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa to contact relevant military leaders of Iran, KSA and the US to convey the same message.

“I have asked FM Qureshi to visit Iran, KSA & USA to meet with respective foreign ministers, Secretary of State; & COAS Gen 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,” the prime minister said in a tweet.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is being dispatched to Tehran, Riyadh and Washington for immediate contact with the leadership of the three capitals. Prime Minister Imran Khan has assigned him to undertake the mission. His logistic is being worked out as he has to travel in high risk areas. The diplomatic initiative could take Qureshi later to some other capitals. He already had established contacts with his counterparts from some important countries of the region relevant to the situation and discussed with them the developments. Shah Mehmood Qureshi could also have a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres while in the United States.

Well-placed diplomatic sources told The News that civil and military leadership had extensive brainstorming about the situation and decided to activate two-prongpeace offensives for seeking de-escalation in the region.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa during a telephonic talk with US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper maintained that Pakistan wants de-escalation of the situation and supports all indicatives for peace in the region.

“We would like the situation to de-escalate and shall support all initiatives which bring peace in the region,” the COAS said. The army chief received telephone call from the US secretary of defence. Both discussed ongoing security situation in the Middle East, the ISPR said in a statement.

Mark Esper said the US did not want to seek conflict, but will respond forcefully if necessary. The COAS called upon all concerned to avoid rhetoric in favour of diplomatic engagement.

“We all have worked a lot to bring peace in the region by fighting against terrorism,” General Bajwa said General Qamar Javed Bajwa assured that Pakistan would continue to play its constructive part towards success of Afghan reconciliation process so that it does not get derailed and region goes towards conflict resolution instead of new conflicts.

Yao Jing, Ambassador of China to Pakistan, and Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini, Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan, also separately called on General Bajwa at the General Headquarters. According to ISPR, regional security situation including US-Iran stand-off was discussed during meetings.

Earlier in the day, Imran Khan had stressed the need to take “immediate measures for de-escalation” in the Middle East amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran. While talking to Oman’s Minister for Endowment and Religious Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Abdullah Assalami in Islamabad, the prime minister expressed “deep concern” over the evolving situation in the region. The prime minister underscored the imperative of avoiding any further escalation in the conflict. While stressing that war is in nobody’s interest, Imran Khan recalled that Pakistan has suffered greatly due to earlier regional conflicts. He also made it clear that Pakistan “would not be part of any conflict in the region”.

During the meeting, the prime minister recalled his earlier attempts to facilitate contacts between the US and Iran as well as Tehran and Riyadh for resolution of their differences. “Pakistan would always be a partner for peace and would continue playing its role to defuse tensions, prevent a conflict, and preserve peace,” the prime minister said.