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Pakistan concerned over Kurd independence referendum, backs Iraq’s unity

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office of Pakistan on Monday expressed concern over a referendum recently held for the independence of Iraq’s Kurd-dominated areas and said it backs Iraq’s unity.

Speaking at a press briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said the referendum held on 25th September violated the Iraqi constitution and therefore lacks any legitimacy.

He said Pakistan supports the Iraq’s unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

Like Iraq, its neighbors, and the international community, Zakaria said, Pakistan opposes the referendum which posed threat to the peace and stability of Iraq and the entire region.

Last Week,  Iraq’s Kurds announced a massive “yes” vote for independence following a referendum that has incensed Baghdad and sparked international concern.

Official results showed 92.73 percent of voters backing statehood in Monday’s non-binding referendum, which Iraq’s central government rejected as illegal. Turnout was put at 72.61 percent.

Longtime Iraqi Kurd leader Massud Barzani said the vote would not lead to an immediate declaration of independence and should instead open the door to negotiations.

But Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told lawmakers on Wednesday there was no question of using its results as the basis for talks.

“The referendum must be annulled and dialogue initiated in the framework of the constitution. We will never hold talks based on the results of the referendum,” Abadi said.

“We will impose Iraqi law in the entire region of Kurdistan under the constitution,” he said.

Pressure has been mounting on the Kurds since the vote, not just from Baghdad but also from Ankara, with Turkey threatening a range of measures including cutting off key export routes for the region.

An overwhelming “yes” vote had been widely expected from the electorate of 4.58 million.

Pursuing a long-cherished dream of statehood, the Kurds went ahead with the referendum in defiance of widespread objections, including from the United Nations and the United States.

It has raised fears of unrest and the possibility of a military confrontation involving the Kurds, who are key allies in internationally backed offensives against the Islamic State group.



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