General Asif Ghafoor DG ISPR

Speaking to a private news channel, the chief military spokesperson laid down the country’s stance on rising tensions in the Middle East after Iran’s top military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in a United States air strike in Iraq.

The ISPR director general said Islamabad will not become part of any action that undermines regional stability.

“Pakistan will not be a party to anyone or anything but will be a partner of peace and peace alone,” he quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa as saying.

“Pakistan stands for peace and is making all-out efforts for regional peace,” he added. The army spokesperson noted that Islamabad played a significant role in the Afghan peace process but the regional situation had changed due to Soleimani’s assassination.

He said the army chief had emphasised reducing regional tensions in his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after the attack. Gen Qamar has stressed that the tension between Tehran and Washington should de-escalate and the region should refrain from another war, the DG ISPR said.

Earlier, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui also expressed deep concern over the escalating tensions in the Middle East. “Pakistan has viewed with deep concern the recent developments in the Middle East, which seriously threaten peace and stability in the region.”

The Foreign Office called for restraint and urged Tehran and Washington to avoid unilateral actions and use of force.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration authorised the resumption of Islamabad’s participation in a US military training and educational program to strengthen military-to-military cooperation on shared priorities and “advance US national security”.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani have promised to avenge Soleimani’s death and declared three days of mourning on Friday.

Tens of thousands of people marched in Iraq on Saturday to mourn Soleimani and al-Muhandis, chanting “Death to America”.

On Saturday evening, a rocket fell inside Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone near the US embassy, another hit the nearby Jadriya neighborhood and two more were fired at the Balad air base north of the city, but no one was killed, the Iraqi military said in a statement.

Hours later, US President Donald Trump threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites “very hard” if Iran attacks Americans or US assets.