In a press conference held, Press TV reported on Monday, that the head of Iranian armed forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri stated that Iranian military will be forced to carry out strikes on Pakistani soil if Pakistan did not control the activities of the militant group Jaish-al-Adl.
“If the terrorist attacks continue, we will hit their safe havens and cells, wherever they are,”
10 border guards were killed last month on the Pak-Iran border by separatist militants of Jaish-al-Adl. After that event both countries came to an agreement to improve border security. The Sistan-Baluchestan province has long been subject to unrest due to the presence of drug smugglers and insurgents. The population of the province is predominantly Sunni Muslim unlike the rest of Iran and Jaish-ul-Adl has tried to play on this sectarian divide by accusing Tehran of discriminating against Sunni Muslims and the Baloch ethnic groups in the region.
“We cannot accept the continuation of this situation,” General Baqeri, “We expect the Pakistani officials to control the borders, arrest the terrorists and shut down their bases.”
“If the terrorist attacks continue, we will hit their safe havens and cells, wherever they are,” he added. He went on to say the border area on the Pakistani side has “unfortunately” turned into a haven and training ground for “Saudi-hired terrorists, who enjoy the US endorsement.”
This is not the first instance of disturbance on the Pak-Iran border in recent years. In 2014, 5 Iranian border guards were kidnapped by Jaish-al-Adl and brought back into Pakistani territory. At the time Iran threatened to send its forces into Pakistan to retrieve its personnel.
Pakistan said at the time that such action would be a violation of international law and warned Iranian forces not to cross the border.
Pakistan’s blossoming ambitions of mediating a truce between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia seem to have been snubbed out by statements from both parties.
Iran refrained from sending its troops despite its threats when a local cleric stepped in and resolved the situation. 4 of the 5 guards were returned after a few months. 1 was killed in action.
Despite these periodic spats, both Iran and Pakistan know that having strong ties is of paramount importance to the national interests of both states.
Last week’s visit of Javad Zarif, Iranian Foreign Minister, highlights this reality. Mr. Zarif had several high-level interactions with government officials where the recent border incident was discussed and shared regional strategic goals were reiterated.
However, Pakistan’s blossoming ambitions of mediating a truce between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia seem to have been snubbed out by statements from both parties.
Recent irritations aside, it is evident that both states realize the importance of mutual understanding when it comes to the shared regional issues.