KARACHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday spoke to army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa over the telephone to discuss escalating tensions with Iran following its top commander’s assassination in neighbouring Iraq.
Major General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds force and spearhead of Iran’s spreading military influence in the Middle East, was killed on Friday when US military helicopters targeted his vehicle at Baghdad airport, the Pentagon confirmed.
Tehran has vowed “crushing revenge” for the air raid in which top Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, an adviser to Soleimani, was also killed. The high-profile assassination escalated tensions in the Middle East region.
“Pakistan’s Chief of Staff General Bajwa and I spoke today about US defensive action to kill Qassem Soleimani,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter.
“The Iran regime’s actions in the region are destabilising and our resolve in protecting American interests, personnel, facilities, and partners will not waver,” he added.
Pakistan Army later confirmed the interaction, saying regional situation including possible implications of the recent escalation in Middle East was discussed during the telephonic conversation.
“COAS emphasised need for maximum restraint and constructive engagement by all concerned to de-escalate the situation in broader interest of peace and stability. COAS also reiterated the need for maintaining focus on success of Afghan Peace Process,” it read.
The escalation in tensions in the Persian Gulf region will surely have serious implications for Pakistan.
Islamabad, meanwhile, issued a carefully drafted statement, expressing “deep concern with the recent developments in the Middle East, which seriously threaten peace and stability in the region”.
The official statement issued by the Foreign Office did not explicitly mention the assassination of General Soleimani.
“Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity are the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, which should be adhered to. It is also important to avoid unilateral actions and use of force,” the statement read.
“All parties are urged to exercise maximum restraint, engage constructively to de-escalate the situation, and resolve issues through diplomatic means, in accordance with UN Charter and international law,” it further said.