UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed deep concern on Thursday over the current tensions between Pakistan and Iran, urged them to de-escalate and offered his good offices to help resolve all their issues peacefully.
“He is very concerned about this escalation, about the exchange of fire, rockets, between Iran and Pakistan. We have seen reports of casualties on both sides,” said the Secretary-General’s Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric when asked to comment on this week’s attacks and counterattacks between Iran and Pakistan.
Asked how concerned the Secretary General was about this escalation, the UN official said: “He urges both sides to exercise maximum restraint, to avoid any further escalation.”
Further emphasising the need to avoid escalation, Mr Dujarric said: “Any security issues, any issues, concerns, between Iran and Pakistan must be addressed through peaceful means, through dialogue, through cooperation, and again, in accordance with the principles of sovereignty, national integrity and good neighbourly relations.”
Russia, Turkiye, EU call for restraint
Mr Dujarric said the Secretary General spoke by phone with the Iranian foreign minister and they may meet at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday and this could be one of the issues they could discuss, besides Gaza.
Like the United Nations, the European Union also said it was deeply worried about the “spiral of violence in the Middle East and beyond” after Pakistan and Iran struck each other’s territory.
“These attacks, including in Pakistan, Iraq and Iran now are of utmost concern for the European Union because they violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries, and they have also a destabilising effect on the region,” EU spokesman Peter Stano said.
India’s official spokesperson Shri Randhir Jaiswal was neutral in his remarks, saying: “This is a matter between Iran and Pakistan. Insofar as India is concerned, we have an uncompromising position of zero tolerance towards terrorism. We understand actions that countries take in their self-defence.”
The Taliban foreign ministry, in a statement, said that the two neighbouring countries “should resolve disputed issues through diplomacy and dialogue”.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers the recent violence between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan alarming and calls on the two neighbouring countries to exercise restraint,” the ministry said in a tweet.
Russia’s foreign ministry called on Iran and Pakistan to show maximum restraint and solve their differences through diplomacy or risk playing into the hands of those who would like to see the region descend into chaos.
Rusian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in a statement noted that the two countries are part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a grouping that Russia helped found.
“It is regrettable that this is happening between friendly SCO countries, with which we are developing partnership relations. Further aggravation of the situation plays into the hands of those who are not interested in peace, stability, and security in the region,” said Zakharova.
Any anti-terrorist operation on another country’s sovereign territory had to be carried out in agreement and coordination with the authorities of that country, she said.
Turkiye, which has had traditionally good relations with both Iran and Pakistan, also appealed for peace and sanity to prevail.
“Iran and Pakistan do not want to escalate tensions in the region,” Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said after holding telephonic conversations with officials from both sides.
Speaking at a news conference in Jordan, Fidan said Turkiye recommended that the sides do not escalate further, and that calm should be restored as soon as possible.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2024