ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday kicked off Pakistan’s peace initiative seeking de-escalation in tension in the Middle East and Gulf region.

The Prime Minister has directed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States to meet with respective foreign ministers and Secretary of State.

In a tweet, he said Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa will contact relevant military leaders to convey a clear message that Pakistan is ready to play its role for peace, but it can never again be part of any war.

“I have asked FM Qureshi to visit Iran, KSA and USA to meet with respective foreign ministers, secretary of state and COAS Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa to contact relevant military leaders to convey a clear message: Pakistan is ready to play its role for peace but can never again be part of any war,” the Prime Minister wrote on Twitter.

The Prime Minister made it abundantly clear that Islamabad would not become party to any war, and offered Pakistan’s good offices to all the players for defusing the brewing tensions in the region.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran 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, 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, Prime Minister Imran Khan “recalled that Pakistan has suffered greatly due to earlier regional conflicts”, the report said. He also made it clear that Pakistan “would not be part of any conflict in the region”.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister also 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 was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile in a video message, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said he would be visiting three countries in line with Prime Minister’s directives as part of the peace efforts.

FM Qureshi said that he had been in contact with his counterparts in the concerned countries as part of Pakistan’s desire for stability in the region.

“All of them agree that we should work together for peace and stability in the region. We are working to prevent war in the region,” he added.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said Pakistan was desirous of peace and stability in the region and will continue to play its role to maintain it.

His statement came after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi bases used by the US military, in the first act of the Islamic republic’s promised revenge for the US killing of a top Iranian general. Iran claimed at least 80 people had died in the strike. The US did not confirm the causalities.

Qureshi said Pakistan does not want tension in the region as the region cannot afford a new war.

The Pentagon said it was still “working on initial battle damage assessments” after “Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq.”

“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil,” a Pentagon statement said. The Pentagon said it had been ready, after days of steadily mounting tension and exchanges of threats of war.

“These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region,” a spokesperson said. 

About the rising tension between Tehran and Washington, the Foreign Minister urged the United Nations to play its role in de-escalation of tension between the two countries in the best interest of the region.

Foreign Minister Qureshi called for de-escalation of tension between the United States and Iran. He said unilateral actions by any party will add fuel to the fire and instability is not in the interest of any stakeholder.

The FM said that the United States should learn lesson from its policies in Afghanistan and Iraq. He feared that any conflict between the United States and Iraq will negatively affect the Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan desires peace and stability in the region and always supports negotiated settlement of all outstanding issues,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan yesterday stopped its citizens from unnecessary travelling to Iraq amid rising tensions in the region and fears of US-Iran war.

The foreign ministry advised Pakistani nationals to exercise “maximum caution” while planning visit to Iraq in the view of recent developments and the prevailing regional security situation.

A foreign ministry statement said that those already in Iraq should remain in close contact with the Embassy of Pakistan in Baghdad.