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Imran Khan on risk of conflict in the region

Mohammad Jamil

PRIME Minister Imran Khan warned against the risk of conflict in the region, as tension between Washington and Tehran escalated. He believes that war is not a solution to any problem, and further escalation in tension in the already volatile region is not in anyone’s interest. All sides needed to exercise maximum restraint in the current situation.” There is not an iota of doubt that all sections of Pakistani society support strong Pak-Iran relations, as both countries have cooperated in the past and stood by each other in the event of a calamity or crisis despite differences over nuances of fiqah. Pakistan has excellent relations with Saudi Arabia and is committed to support in the event of attack on Harman Shareef. Pakistan indeed faces a dilemma, as Iran is a next door neighbour whereas Saudi Arabia has helped Pakistan immensely whenever it faced economic crisis.
Anyhow, tension has increased between Iran and the United States in the wake of this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region that Washington has blamed on Iran. Tehran has refuted the allegations, but the United States has sent an aircraft carrier and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, raising concerns about the risk of conflict in a volatile region. The fact remains that war always brings instability, hate, disparity, death and destruction not in any specific country but in the entire region of the conflict. Pakistan has been suffering for the last three decades due to Afghan war vis-a-vis terrorism, influx of refugees and colossal economic crisis. The main cause behind the instability in Afghanistan is couple of regional countries and world powers. Of course, Pakistan government has to tread carefully when recent tension between Iran and USA has created alarm bell for the entire region.
The US troops are still in Afghanistan; and another US war in the Middle East would be catastrophic for the region. Washington has been seeking to increasingly tighten sanctions against Iran, as relations continue to worsen under President Donald Trump. An Iranian official has said that “elements in the Trump administration are pushing for war between the United States and Iran – a scenario that would be catastrophic for the Middle East”. The problem is that warring nations do not listen to the voice of reason, and the result in the past has been two world wars. On 30th July 1932, a few months before Adolf Hitler began his reign of terror in Germany, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to Sigmund Freud asking him for a prescription against man’s lust for hatred and destruction. He questioned: “Is there a way of freeing humankind from the threat of war? Can human aggression be channeled to help protect people against the impulses of hatred and destruction”?
These questions were put to Father of Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud in a letter, who replied two months later, spelling out his thoughts on the psychical foundations of behavior and defining possible ways in which the conflicts rending humanity could be brought to a halt to save humanity. But nobody heeded to the advice and the result was Second World War. Fears of conflict erupting in the Gulf region has grown in recent weeks amid fiery rhetoric from both sides. On Wednesday, the semi-official ISNA News Agency quoted Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi as saying: “We are aware that evident elements are trying to put America into a war with Iran for their own goals.” He accused US National Security Adviser John Bolton – who called for overthrow of the regime in Tehran – and other warmongers of plotting against Iran, the Mehr news agency reported.
“War would be a disaster for everybody in the region. We hope that wisdom will prevail in Washington, that they do not make this biggest mistake in the region ever. But we are fully prepared for that scenario,” Araghchi said. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday his country will not re-negotiate with the US over its nuclear and missile programmes, after President Hassan Rouhani signaled talks with Washington might be possible if sanctions were lifted. Washington withdrew last year from the international nuclear deal signed with Tehran in 2015, and it has ratcheted up sanctions in efforts to shut down Iran’s economy by ending its international sales of crude oil. “We said before that we will not negotiate with America, because negotiation has no benefit and carries harm,” Khamenei said on his website.
Unfortunately, friendly countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia in the past continued their turf/proxy wars in Pakistan. Furthermore, hostile countries’ agencies have been using Afghan and Iran’s soil to stir sectarian conflicts and to destabilize Pakistan. Iran and Pakistan are bound together by faith, common heritage and shared values of love and peace, tolerance and humanity. In 2010, Iran had accused Pakistan of not taking on Jundallah group headed by Abdul Malik Rigi, reportedly having links with Al-Qaeda and the CIA at the same time. Of course, Indian spy/terrorist had used Iran’s soil to conduct vile acts in Pakistan. Anyhow, Saudi Arabia and Iran should wean off the efforts to destabilize each other, as the US and other powers will take advantage of the situation and create Iraq-like situation to destroy Iran. And of course, Muslim Ummah will ultimately suffer.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.