ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday said it was against a war in the Middle East and was playing its role for peace.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said Pakistan enjoyed cordial relations with all the countries including Iran, the United States and Afghanistan.

In the context of the evolving situation in the Middle East, she said the Pakistani leadership had already expressed its deep concern. “These developments in our view, could seriously threaten peace and stability in the region. Pakistan has emphasized the importance of restraint and diffusion of tensions. Prime Minister (Imran Khan) has stressed that war is in no one’s interest,” she said.

The PM, she said, also made it clear that Pakistan would not be part of any conflict in the region but will be a partner for peace and would continue to make efforts for diffusion of tensions, prevention of conflict and preservation of peace.

“Towards this objective, Foreign Minister (Shah Mehmood) Qureshi has held wide ranging discussions with his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and several other important interlocutors. In these discussions, the Foreign Minister reaffirmed that Pakistan would neither let its soil to be used against any other State nor become part of any regional conflict,” she added.

FO says Pakistan enjoys cordial ties with Iran, US

Pakistan, the spokesperson said, would continue to play a role in preventing further escalation and maintaining regional peace and stability.

Regarding the sanctions indicated by US President Donald Trump in his speech, she said Pakistan was awaiting further details.

Pakistan, she said, had a principled position on Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “Pakistan has always maintained that JCPOA the represents a good example of a negotiated settlement of complex issues through dialogue and diplomacy. We hope that all parties to the JCPOA will be able to take effective measures to resolve all outstanding issues through consultations within the framework provided in the Agreement,” she elaborated.

The US and Pakistan, she said, had long standing relations. “Our bilateral relations cover the entire gamut of our interaction across all fields that include political, military, economic, development, social, academic,” Aisha Farooqui said.

The contacts and exchanges between the leaderships of the two countries, she said, were taking place at multiple levels. “There is not one channel, but there are multiple channels of interaction between our leaders. The focus in all these multiple interactions remains on building a stronger relationship and advancing cooperation in areas of mutual interest,” she maintained.

The spokesperson said US decision to revive International Military Education and Training for Pakistan was one more step in the right direction and reflective of our growing bilateral relationship.

“We believe it is important to continue to work for a broad-based and enduring relationship, based on mutual trust and mutual respect. Our two sides remain engaged in this context,” she remarked.

Asked about the Saudi Foreign Minister’s visit the US and meeting with President Trump for peace in the region, she said: “Any effort by any of the parties concerned to de-escalate is welcomed by Pakistan.”

Regarding the Afghan peace process, she said, the Foreign Minister in his extensive outreach with his counterparts had expressed hope that the progress made in the Afghan peace process should be preserved and further advanced.

“So we are very mindful of this. At every interaction by the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the military leadership we have underscored that the peace process in Afghanistan should not be affected,” she added.

The spokesperson said that Pakistan rejected Indian propaganda on the treat6ement of minorities. She said opening of Kartarpur Corridor was reflection of the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“We reject Indian propaganda on treatment of minorities in Pakistan. The Indian government’s mysterious portrayal of law and order incidents in Peshawar and Nankana Sahib recently as alleged persecution of minorities is part of its smear campaign against Pakistan and a desperate attempt to divert attention from ongoing state terrorism Kashmir,” Aisha Farooqui said.

Referring to the situation in Kashmir, she said it was 158th day of the lockdown of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the people of the territory are deprived to life, food, health, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and right to self-determination.

She said Prime minister Khan’s visit to Malaysia was envisaged in near future and “we remain closely engaged with Malaysia as our brotherly country.”

The spokesperson defended Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood saying he had spent the last three decades of his life working for Pakistan. “He is one of the ablest, well trained and acclaimed diplomats of Foreign Service of Pakistan,” she added.

About the visit of Foreign Minister Qureshi and army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa for regional peace, she said the Qureshi was actively engaged in this process. She added that the Chief of Army Staff’s plans will be shared by the Ministry of Defence.

Asked about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Pakistan, Aisha Farooqui said: “The Turkish President is scheduled to visit Pakistan in February. The exact dates of the visit are being worked out by both the sides and will be shared in due course.”