Pakistan on Thursday condemned the assassination of Iranian Scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran and urged all sides to exercise maximum restraint to avoid further escalation of tensions in the volatile Middle East region.
“Pakistan condemns the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran,” the country’s Foreign Office said in a statement.
“Pakistan strongly urges all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid further escalation of tensions in the region”, the statement added.
“We extend sincere condolences to the family members of Mr. Fakhrizadeh and to the Iranian people”.
Pakistan and Iran have a common border demarcating Pakistan’s Balochistan province from Iran’s Sistan Province. The 1000km fence is being fenced by Pakistan as a border management protocol.
Commenting on the statement, Syed Muhammad Ali, Director Nuclear & Strategic Affairs, Center for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS), an Islamabad-based Think Tank says, “It reflects Pakistan’s concern toward the need to maintain peace, security and stability in the volatile Middle East region.”
Some regional observers share similar views, and characterize the “Israeli hit” aimed at upticking tensions in the region.
An Israeli official told the New York Times on Sunday that “the world should thank Israel for killing the father of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh”. It cited “global threat such arms would pose”.
The official was reportedly involved in the program to track Fakhrizadeh for years and spoke on condition of anonymity. He told the Times that Israel would keep acting to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Citing a US official, CNN reports Israel was behind the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist. The official “declined to give details about whether the Trump administration knew about the attack before it was carried out or provided support”.
Trump on Dec 2 retweeted an Israeli journalist who called it a “major psychological and professional blow for Iran.”
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official who also spoke to the Times, said “the game is afoot, or coming”, effectively warning other actions might be in the works.
According to The Times news analysis, “The killing of Iran’s nuclear scientist threatens President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to revive the nuclear deal. That may have been the goal.”
An Iranian move to take kinetic action against the US would make it harder for Biden to lift sanctions on Iran when he gets into office in order to jumpstart diplomacy, an official told CNN. “If Iran does not do anything, their retaliation threats would look hollow at home and by players in the region”, the official said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Israel less than two weeks before the attack was carried out, part of a regional trip that included the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, all places where he discussed Iran with his counterparts, reports CNN.
President Trump has given Pompeo carte blanche to continue carrying out the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign over the next two months, the official said, adding that there will be more US sanctions on Iran this week and next.