ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Sunday that it will not allow its soil to be used against anyone, amidst raging tensions between Iran and the US after the killing of top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani in an American drone strike in Iraq.

“We will not allow our soil to be used against anyone,” Army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor was quoted as saying by the ARY News.

“Pakistan will not be party to anyone or anything but will be a partner of peace and peace alone,” he said quoting Prime Minister Imran Khan.

His remarks came two days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday said that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used against any nations as per a Bilateral Security Agreement signed between Washington and Kabul in 2014.

Both Pakistan and Afghanistan share border with Iran, which has vowed to avenge the killing of its top general. US President Donald Trump has warned Iran that he has identified 52 possible targets in the country and will hit it harder than ever before if Tehran carries out any attack against America to avenge the killing of Soleimani.

Responding to a question, Ghafoor expressed concerns over the rise of “tensions” in the region and said the regional situation had been altered after the killing of the Iranian general and Pakistan would play its role in helping peace prevail.

Soleimani, 62, the head of Iran’s elite al-Quds force and architect of its regional security apparatus, was killed when a US drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the Baghdad International Airport early on Friday. The strike also killed the deputy chief of Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force.

His killing was the most dramatic escalation yet in spiralling tensions between Iran and the US.

Shortly after the killing of Soleimani, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dialled Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa who emphasised the “need for maximum restraint and constructive engagement”.

“Pakistan will support all peaceful efforts and hopes the region doesn’t go towards another war,” Ghafoor quoted the army chief as telling Pompeo.

The Foreign Office has also expressed “deep concern” over the tensions in the region, urging all sides to exercise restraint.

“Pakistan has viewed with deep concern the recent developments in the Middle East, which seriously threaten peace and stability in the region,” said the FO in a statement.

“Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity are the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, which should be adhered to,” it said, adding that it is “important to avoid unilateral actions and use of force”.

The FO urged all parties involved to “exercise maximum restraint and engage constructively to de-escalate the situation.

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