On 8th January 2020 Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad organized an In-House discussion on “Escalation between US and Iran; Regional Implications and Options for Pakistan” at Islamabad, Pakistan. Prominent dignitaries including defence analysts, Former Ambassadors and members of academia participated as panelists.
The participants discussed the US-Iran situation in detail and deliberated the possible policy options for Pakistan. The participants stated that the US-Iran tussle is three dimensional that is global, regional and its effects on Pakistan. Iran’s main objective is withdrawal of the US forces troops from Iraq and other Middle-Eastern countries. The assassination of Qasim Solemani by US has triggered the situation and in response, Iran attacked the Ain al-Asad airbase of US in Iraq. However, Iran does not want any further escalation. US accused the involvement of Qasem Soleimani in conspiracy against US and killings of many innocent people. The participants were of the view that reconciliation process is not evident which has created difficulties for Pakistan to take any stance but it is suggested that Pakistan should remain neutral and its territory must not be used for the interest of any other state. As far as, military escalation is concerned, US and Iran both will not go for full fledge war, however, the situation will remain tensed and confrontation is likely to continue.
The US and Iran tension will result in increase of oil prices and possibilities of proxy war in the Gulf region will further worsen the situation. While US is trying to bring normalcy in its relations with Pakistan, the current situation will continue to test Pakistan’s various commitments with US in context of US-Taliban peace talks. In addition, Pakistan will have to maintain a strategic balance between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
US wants complete foothold in Middle-East and will continue using such proxy war tactics. Moreover, Arab world is divided and polarized. The developing scenario can also provoke US to target more Iranian interests in the region.
US is trying to give an impression that Iran is close ally of Russia which can be a threat for US and Saudi Arabia as well. It is the need of the hour that global powers must use their influence to deescalate the situation. China has offered military assistance to Iraq and Russia is already involved in Syria and Iraq. US is losing her global allies and is now isolated in the international arena. Amongst the Muslim countries in Middle-east, only Iran has the capable potential to fight against US. Qasem Soleimani’s assassination is the violation of international law and violation of Iraq’s territorial sovereignty. In case of full fledge war, Pakistan will have to decide its stance and has to come up with a policy. India can also benefit from such situation and can create further tensions at the eastern border of Pakistan. Pakistan must adopt a pragmatic foreign policy to tackle this situation and adopt a management strategy. The leadership of Pakistan must engage in mediation process through bilateral visits to Iran, US and other major players. Pakistan must call Parliamentary Session to discuss National Security and create consensus. In the past, Pakistan has successfully maintained its neutral stance on various global issues including Iran-Iraq war and Yemen crisis. However, it is about time that Pakistan must frame a policy to come up with a comprehensive strategy.
The panelists of the In-House Discussion included following members:
• Major General Syed Khalid Amir Jaffery HI(M), (Retd), President CGSS
• Lieutenant General Naeem Khalid Lodhi (Retd), Former Federal Minister of Defence
• Major General Shakeel Hussain (Retd), Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Sri lanka
• Major General Raza Muhammad (Retd), Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Mauritius
• Ambassador Jalil Abbas, Former Ambassador to USA
• Ambassador Abdul Basit, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to India
• Ambassador Zameer Akram, Former Ambassador of Pakistan and Permanent Representative to UN
• Mr Ashfaq Ahmad Gondal, Former Federal Secretary Information, Senior Member Advisory Board CGSS
• Mian Abdul Rauf, Former Advocate General Islamabad High Court
• Syed Mohammad Ali, Center for Peace Security and Development (SPSD)
• Dr. Mohammad Khan, Professor, International Islamic University (IIUI)
• Major General Hafiz Masroor Ahmed (Retd), Vice President CGSS
• Mr. Babur Suhail, Advocate, Vice President CGSS
• Brigadier Akhtar Nawaz Janjua (Retd), Member Advisory Board CGSS
• Brigadier Abdullah Khan (Retd), Member Advisory Board CGSS
• Brigadier Said Nazeer Momand (Retd), Member Advisory Board CGSS