Imran’s statement in Iran taken out of context: PMO


ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Wednesday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks in Tehran that terrorists had in the past misused Pakistani territory to undertake attacks against Iran had been taken “largely out of context”.

In a statement, the PM Office noted that there had been a lot of debate about the premier’s statement on the use of Pakistani soil.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan was talking about non-state actors using Pakistani soil under foreign influence to carry out activities in Pakistan or coordinating from Pakistan,” the statement read, citing the example of persons like Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and their local facilitators.

The PM Office added that attacks are carried out in Pakistan using the territory of Iran and Afghanistan “in the same manner”.

“The same was clearly stated by the prime minister during his visit to Iran while referring to [the] latest incident in Balochistan,” the handout said, adding that it is because of this reason that the premier was making “all-out efforts for peace across [the] whole region”.

According to the PM Office, linking Prime Minister Imran’s statement to any other context is an “effort to misinterpret the expression which doesn’t serve Pakistan in any way.”

On Monday, while addressing a joint press conference alongside Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran after their bilateral talks, Imran in a reference to the Ormara massacre had said: “Just a few days back […] 14 of our security personnel were killed by terrorists in Balochistan.”

“And I know that Iran has suffered from terrorism which [was] from groups operating from within Pakistan,” the premier had added.

He then announced that Pakistan’s security chief would sit with his Iranian counterpart and discuss ways of cooperation, “so that we have trust in each other that both countries will not allow any terrorist activity from their soil”.

The premier had added that he hoped the move would build confidence between the two neighbours.

Imran’s remarks were met with a vocal condemnation from opposition parties in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

“No prime minister has ever made such a confession on foreign soil,” PML-N MNA Khurram Dastagir Khan had said, adding that only a day before the premier’s remarks, “the foreign minister had stated that terrorists had entered from Iran to carry out activities in Balochistan.”

PPP lawmaker Hina Rabbani Khar, who previously served as the country’s foreign minister, too was unforgiving in her criticism of the prime minister’s statements.

“We are worried for the country after seeing it continually become a laughing stock,” she said. “This is not funny anymore. You cannot play with the destiny of this country anymore.”

Defending the prime minister, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said the opposition had quoted only one part of the statement.

She said that after acknowledging that Pakistan’s soil had been used for terrorist activities in Iran in the past, the prime minister had clearly stated that terrorists had recently come from Iran to carry out attacks in Balochistan.