Anadolu Agency – Pakistan on Friday expressed “deep concern” over the killing of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian elite Quds Force, in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq.
In a statement issued in Islamabad, Pakistani Foreign Ministry said the development in the Middle East has “seriously threatened peace and stability in the region.”
Pakistan also called on all concerned parties “to exercise maximum restraint, engage constructively to deescalate the situation.”
“Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity are the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, which should be adhered to. It is also important to avoid unilateral actions and use of force,” said Aisha Farooqui, spokesperson of the foreign ministry.
She also urged all parties to “resolve issues through diplomatic means, following the UN Charter and international law.”
Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari also urged the UN to defuse the situation, adding that the killing has escalated tensions in the region. The minister further said that it was in no one’s interest to have a war in an already volatile region.
Soleimani was commander of elite Quds Force, the central column of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRG), designated as a terror group by the U.S. in 2007. The force is estimated to have 20,000 fighters.
The U.S. strike near Baghdad International Airport also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, vice president of the Hashd al-Shaabi group, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) that fought ISIS also knows as Daesh in Iraq, local media reported.
The attack came amid heightened tensions after thousands of Iran-backed protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday.