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US-Iran tensions

Opinion

May 24, 2019

At the moment, when Pakistan is facing severe economic crisis due to the hike in dollar rates, another horrific war is likely to break out between Iran and the US. The recent threatening tweet by US President Donald Trump against Iran is really a matter of serious concern. Trump has already pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, signed by the Obama regime. This has resulted in strict economic sanctions on Iran.

On the other side, the Iranian leadership has vowed to defend the motherland at any cost. Some analysts are of the view that Pakistan must focus on the improvement of its own internal matters, and thus, should stay away from Iran-US tussle. However, I think this is not practical approach and we should prepare ourselves to face this unwanted crisis.

In the context of our unique geo-strategic position, active role in the Saudi-led joint military alliance, as a frontline ally of the US to curb terrorism, a large Shia population and, above all, historical, cultural and religious ties with Iran, it is not possible for us to be neutral. My stance is also supported by the recent letter by the Pakistan government to Iran regarding the Pak-Iran gas pipeline.

According to the international media, the Middle East region is currently facing the worst kind of instability and crises. Iran is being blamed by the US for the recent attacks on vessels off the UAE coast. Similarly, Saudi Arabia is also accusing Iran of supporting Houthi insurgents in Yemen and providing weapons to them.

According to the American media, the US is deploying a Patriot missile-defence system to the Middle East region against Iran. The US is justifying such moves due to possible threat to US forces in the region by Iran. Another regional player, Israel, is also busy in lobbying to ensure an attack on Iran.

There was a time when Iran was a close ally of both the US and Israel but after the 1979 revolution, anti-Americanism gained credence throughout the country, and the US was declared an evil power by the new Iranian leadership. In this situation, the Iran-US nuclear deal by the previous US government was welcomed by the international community as a big achievement for regional peace. I believe that the Prime Minister Imran Khan led government has to face many new challenges. One of these is the ongoing US-Iran tension. The Middle East situation is very complex for us due to the fact that Pakistan has equal respectable diplomatic relations with the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia from day one.

Iran is the first country that not only recognized Pakistan after Independence but also provided solid support to us during the Indo-Pak wars. On the other hand, Pakistan has the honour to be a close ally of Saudi Arabia. Pakistan also preferred to ally with the US. Even today, peace in Afghanistan is impossible without the active support of Pakistan.

In my view, our diplomatic relations with any country should not be sabotaged due to any international conflict. Our diplomatic policy is currently based on the point that we will not allow anyone to use our soil against any country. However, before the start of any new military clash in our neighbouring country, we have to use all diplomatic channels to convince the international community about the devastation of war. We should not be reluctant to offer mediation in this regard. I am sure that US-Iran conflict will also be not in the interest of China, Russia, France, the UK and Germany which were also party to the US-Iran nuclear agreement.

We should not forget that the Iran border is adjacent to Balochistan, where the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is being developed rapidly. The flames of a war can engulf the entire region. As a result, once again Pakistan may have to face a large number of refugees. Such a war can push our economy back too.

Therefore, we must keep urging that war is not the solution, but in fact is a problem in itself. All countries must sit together to resolve this issue through dialogue in a peaceful way. There is also a dire need for Pakistani media to build this national narrative on the ongoing Iran-US tensions.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani

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