Pakistan offers mediation to settle Iran N-conflict
11 June, 2010
ISLAMABAD: As Iran finds itself with very few supporters, and none who have condemned the UN Security Council sanctions, Pakistan on Thursday said it was ready to play a role in seeing the world powers settle ‘differences’ with Tehran diplomatically.
As Iran maintained a stiff upper lip in face of some of the strongest sanctions against its nuclear programme, Islamabad called for a negotiated settlement.
“Pakistan has always called for a negotiated settlement of the issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme. We will continue encouraging all the parties concerned to reengage in purposeful diplomacy and settle differences in the spirit of cooperation and accommodation. Beyond that I would not like to speculate as to the implications for the region or why this sanction has come about, as we already know the background. We all know what has led to this resolution,” the spokesman at the Foreign Office told the weekly media briefing.
However, as the world powers ensure that Iran is economically ‘strangulated’, the spokesman said its ongoing cooperation with Iran on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline would not be hit by these sanctions.
“As far as our IPI project is concerned, it is a commercial agreement to meet our energy deficit and beyond the purview of this resolution,” the spokesman responded to a query.
Israel’s blatant blood letting on the Freedom Flotilla and Iran’s nuclear programme were pointed out to the spokesman. “On Israel, you would remember that there was a presidential statement from the Security Council, condemning the attack on the Freedom Flotilla. Now, efforts are afoot to see as to how international investigations could be conducted into that serious crime committed by Israel,” the spokesman said.
Israel’s nuclear programme, which appeared to have been sidelined by the UNSC, was also raised at the briefing as well as the expansion of the UNSC. The spokesman pointed to the recently held NPT Review Conference in New York where there was a resolution to make the Middle East a Nuclear-Weapons Free Zone.
“I think the international community needs to work together to achieve this objective. As far as Pakistan is concerned, our position on the UNSC reform is clear. We do want this body to become democratic. We nevertheless do not support expansion in the permanent category of the Council. We are working within the framework of the Uniting for Consensus (UFC), along with other like-minded countries. We have put our proposals on the table and we will see how things evolve in the weeks and months ahead,” he added.
As eyebrows were raised when US Secretary of State Robert Blake publicly took an Indian ‘friendly’ stance and said the upcoming foreign ministers meeting between India and Pakistan would not ponder over Kashmir, the spokesman did not agree, saying Pakistan had a right to discuss ‘all’ the issues.
Even on Thursday, official voices in New Delhi said it was not going to discuss substantive issues like Kashmir with Pakistan in the proposed rounds of dialogue, but was only attempting to create the “right atmosphere” for removing the trust deficit for a broad dialogue later.
The spokesman responded: “I think you all understand that the trust deficit, which exists between Pakistan and India, is not a new phenomenon. It is there since decades for several reasons and you are all aware of those. We believe that in order to move forward meaningfully with a view to bridging this trust deficit, it is important that, as agreed by the two prime ministers at Thimphu, we discuss all the issues, which continue to bedevil our relations and this is what we intend to do when the two foreign ministers meet in Islamabad in July.”
Nevertheless, Pakistan is in a preparatory mode for the upcoming interactions with India. The spokesman recalled Foreign Minister Qureshi’s meeting with the Indian Commerce Minister on the sidelines of the CICA Summit in Istanbul and Wednesday’s meeting between Pakistan’s high commissioner and the Indian home minister in New Delhi in the context of the upcoming Saarc meeting of home/interior ministers in Islamabad, which would take place on June 26.
“The meeting was also about a bilateral interaction between our interior minister and his Indian counterpart on the margins of the Saarc meeting in Islamabad. Overall, I think both countries agree that we need to move forward in a sustained manner, so that the engagement process may not be disrupted again. There is also a realisation that it is important that we take meaningful steps forward, so that the trust deficit, which exists between our two countries, may be bridged,” said the spokesman.
Pakistan has not shied away from hard facts that it can do much better to improve its human rights record, as pointed out in the latest Amnesty International report.
“The democratic government of Pakistan is fully committed to improving the human rights situation in Pakistan. There is no denying the fact that there are problems, there are issues that need to be handled and handled effectively. Having said that I would like to say that the government of Pakistan is sparing no effort in order to overcome these with a view that human rights of all our citizens are ensured in accordance with the Constitution,” said the spokesman.