Pakistan will not become part of any coalition targeting Iran


Islamabad June 1 (TNS): Adviser to the Prime Minister on Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Thursday told Senate that Pakistan will not become part of any coalition that will target Iran.

Sartaj Aziz was summoned by Senate Chairman Mian Raza  Rabbani after PPP Senator complained that the government has not clarified its position what role it will have in the Saudi-led 41-member Islamic coalition formed to counter terrorism.

Aziz said that the Islamic alliance was not against Iran and its focus was terrorism. He clarified that Pakistan army unit will not be deployed outside Saudi Arabia.

Aziz said that the Saudi king’s statement against Iran at the Riyadh conference last week was of political nature. He said that the contours of the coalition have not yet been framed and Pakistan will assess the outlines of the terms of engagement before formally joining the Islamic coalition. The adviser also said that former army chief Raheel Sharif, who is leading the Islamic coalition, was also aware of Pakistan’s relations with Iran and he will try his best to maintain a balance between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Aziz said that the Middle East has divided on sectarian lines after the simmering conflicts in Syria, Yamen and Iran. He said that the Saudi king’s stamen against Iran added fuel to the fire and sectarianism crack has fostered further.

Aziz also told the Senate that Pakistan is working with the coalition on the basis of April 2015 resolution of the Parliament. He said that the resolution will be the guiding principal of Pakistan’s engagement with the Islamic coalition.

Aziz said that the terms of reference (ToRs) of the coalition were yet to framed as a meeting of the coalition countries was due. “The coalition has do decide what are their priorities,” Aziz said.

Aziz said that Pakistan will work for the unity of Muslim Ummah. He, however, clarified that the integrity of Saudi Arabia and Haramain and Sharafen will not be compromised.

Raza Rabbani told the adviser that Parliament should be informed about ToRs before Pakistan formally joined the coalition. The Senate chairman told Aziz that Senate should be informed before taking any approval from the Cabinet in this regard.

Rabbani also asked if the government distanced itself from Raheel Sharif after he assumed charge as head of the 41-member coalition.