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Qamar Bajwa to Iran: Cooperation necessary for regional peace

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News Analysis |

Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa at General Headquarters (GHQ) on Tuesday. The COAS said that regional peace was dependent upon wider cooperation within West Asia. We all need to cooperate to root out transnational security and crimes threat, he said.

During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security and Pakistan-Iran relations came under the discussion, according to a press release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). The visiting dignitary appreciated bilateral security engagements during the recent months and measures initiated by both sides to improve Pakistan-Iran border security.

The Syrian conflict in the Middle East has also given rise to a new Iranian backed Shia militant group called the liwa’ zaynabiyun that has risen in Syria consisting exclusively of Pakistanis. Fallen fighters of such groups are buried with full military honors in Iran and Syria.

Mr Zarif, meanwhile, in his meeting with the army chief appreciated the steps that had been taken by Pakistan and Iran for bolstering border security. “The visiting dignitary appreciated bilateral security engagements during the recent months and measures initiated by both sides to improve Pak-Iran border security,” said the army’s media wing, ISPR. Border security has remained a major issue between Pakistan and Iran.

Mr Zarif previosuly visited Islamabad in May 2017 in the aftermath of a cross-border attack by militants, which killed a number of Iranian border guards, to seek assurances that Pakistan would take action to prevent recurrence of such attacks. Border security was again discussed during Gen Bajwa’s visit to Tehran where he assured the Iranian government that Pak-Iran border would remain border of peace and friendship.

Read more: COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa asks Govt. to find political solution…

He had also highlighted the need for its better security management so as to deny its exploitation by terrorists. Iran’s Foreign Minister emphasized that two suicide blast attempts near his country’s border with Pakistan last night were foiled due to efforts from both countries.

“Last night we had two suicide attack attempts from Pakistani territory into Iran. Both of them were foiled and we had excellent cooperation last night from the Pakistani armed forces in order to contain this. We are very happy with the level of cooperation that exists today,” Zarif told a news channel in an interview. The Iranian foreign minister also reiterated his commitment towards improving relations between the neighboring countries, stressing that Iran would not allow its land to be used for activities against Pakistan.

There is also the presence of the Baloch Liberation Front, a brutal ethno-nationalist separatist terror group whose sanctuaries and leader Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch are stated to be inside Iranian territory.

“We have had conversations and discussions with our Pakistani friends at the highest level. We provided whatever we had and we continue to be ready. We believe that at the highest level there is a clear understanding in Pakistan about the fact that what we stated publically will continue to be the case.” he added.

Talking about Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, Zarif said that Tehran has shared all the information available with Iranian security agencies and assured that “our soil will not be used against Pakistan”. Zarif expressed disappointment over failure of Pakistan’s efforts to bridge the gap between Iran and Saudi Arabia. “We welcomed Nawaz Sharif’s gesture to bring the two Muslim countries closer but Riyadh gave a cold shoulder.” Iran is willing to join China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and ready to include Beijing in Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

Read more: Qamar Javed Bajwa selected as Pakistan’s new Army Chief

The Iranian Pakistani border has seen heightened activity in recent months. The border has become infamous for both cross-border firings by Iran as well activities by ethno-nationalist and sectarian terrorists on both sides. Pakistan is fighting a low-level terror campaign by Indian supported militants and has arrested an Iranian based serving Indian intelligence operative Kulbhusan Yadav from that same area.

Mr Zarif previosuly visited Islamabad in May 2017 in the aftermath of a cross-border attack by militants, which killed a number of Iranian border guards, to seek assurances that Pakistan would take action to prevent recurrence of such attacks.

Iran’s main foe is the militant group Jaish al-Adl, or the Army of Justice.  Jaish al-Adl is a Sunni militant group that has carried out several attacks on Iranian security forces with the aim of highlighting what they say is discrimination against Sunni Muslims and the Baloch ethnic group in the province. The group has claimed responsibility for attacks that killed many Iranian personnel.

Read more: Army will support mainstreaming of FATA, says Gen Bajwa

There is also the presence of the Baloch Liberation Front, a brutal ethno-nationalist separatist terror group whose sanctuaries and leader Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch are stated to be inside Iranian territory. The group routinely carries put attacks from across the border into Pakistani territory often with the connivance of both Indian and Iran.

Iran is also involved in backing some sectarian outfits inside Pakistan such as the Sipah-e-Muhammad whose founder Allama Ghulam Raza Naqvi passed away in Iran on 6 March 2016. The Syrian conflict in the Middle East has also given rise to a new Iranian backed Shia militant group called the liwa’ zaynabiyun (Zaynabiyun Brigade) that has risen in Syria consisting exclusively of Pakistanis. Fallen fighters of such groups are buried with full military honors in Iran and Syria.


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