ISLAMABAD– Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Sunday has extended warmest felicitations to President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and its fraternal people on their Independence Day.

In a post on social-networking website Twitter, the premier paid tribute to Azeri forces who are valiantly defending their territorial integrity.

Pakistan stands with Azerbaijan in its quest to resolve Nagorno-Karabakh issue as per United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, he expressed.

A day earlier, Pakistan had rejected a claim by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that Pakistani special forces were reportedly fighting alongside the Azerbaijani army as “baseless and unwarranted”.

In a statement, the Foreign Office had asked the leadership of Armenia to halt its “irresponsible propaganda” and reiterated support for Azerbaijan’s right to self-defence.

Conflict History

The decades-long Nagorno-Karabakh conflict re-erupted on September 27 and has so far killed more than 700 people, including nearly 80 civilians.

The mountainous western region of Azerbaijan has remained under separatist Armenian control since a 1994 ceasefire ended a brutal war that killed 30,000.

Armenia, which backs Nagorno-Karabakh but does not recognise its independence, has admitted that Azerbaijani forces have made important gains along the front in the past week.

On Saturday, a missile strike levelled a row of homes in Azerbaijan’s second city of Ganja, killing 12 and injuring more than 40 people in their sleep in a sharp escalation of the conflict.

The early hours attack, which saw a second missile strike another part of Ganja and a third reach the nearby strategic city of Mingecevir, came hours after Azerbaijani forces shelled the ethnic Armenian separatist region’s capital Stepanakert.

Later in the day, the foreign ministries of both countries said they will declare a “humanitarian truce” from midnight — a second attempt of the warring sides to declare a ceasefire.

The announcement came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held phone talks with his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan and highlighted “the need to strictly follow” a ceasefire deal agreed in Moscow last Saturday.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had last Saturday agreed to a ceasefire after 11 hours of talks, mediated by Lavrov in Moscow, but then both also accused each other of violating the deal.

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