Prime Minister Imran Khan meets President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in Davos, January 2020

On Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted to the Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Azeri people in a show of support on their Independence Day. He extended his “warmest felicitations” on the occasion and paid respect to Azeri forces engaged in a conflict with Armenia.

“We pay tribute to Azeri forces valiantly defending their territorial integrity,” he said in his tweet. “[Pakistan] stands with [Azerbaijan] in its quest to resolve Nagorno-Karabakh issue as per UNSC resolutions.”

Earlier, the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh had taken a new direction, with both countries accusing each other of continuing attacks despite a ceasefire.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan but is governed by ethnic Armenians as an independent state. Since violence broke out between the two states in September, the region has witnessed hundreds of military and civilian deaths as well as significant destruction. A ceasefire was brokered between the two states by Russia on 10th October, but ended after allegations of violations from both ends. Armenia was accused of attacking Azeri petroleum pipelines, while Azerbaijan was accused of attempting to seize the disputed land.

Another “humanitarian truce” was commenced on 18th October, with both sides claiming to base their decision on the statements of the presidents of France, United States and Russia. These three make up the OSCE Minsk Group that has been working to resolve this conflict since 1992. However, this cease did not last more than a few minutes.

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Armenian forces started firing at the Jabrayil region two minutes after the truce was supposed to take effect, and continued its attacks throughout the morning.

According to a statement issued by Azarbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Armenian forces started firing at the Jabrayil within two minutes of the truce taking affect. Armenian spokespersons, on the other hand, allege that Azeri forces had violated the truce by firing shells.

In a statement issued some days earlier, a spokesman for the secretary general of the United Nations condemned the bilateral attacks and, on Sunday, stated that “all attacks on populated areas impacted by the conflict.”

According to the UN spokesperson, both countries must stop fighting and “take constant care to spare and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in the conduct of military operations” under international humanitarian law.

A spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Office, on Sunday, said: “Pakistan welcomes the humanitarian truce agreed between Azerbaijan and Armenia to prevent a further humanitarian crisis. This is s a positive development for peace and stability. We hope that the humanitarian conditions agreed upon by the parties would be honoured completely.”

“Pakistan believes that sustainable peace between the two parties would depend on the complete and comprehensive implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions and withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani territories,” he added.

Earlier, Pakistan had denied claims by the Armenian prime minister regarding Pakistani military forces aiding Azerbaijan in the conflict. These claims were rejected by the Foreign Office as “baseless and unwarranted.”

The author is a former member of staff. She writes features on current affairs and is interested in issues of social justice, online behaviors, and popular culture. She tweets at @zainabmsheikh and can be reached at zainabmubashir@thecorrespondent.pk.

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