Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) A few days after the start of Tehran’s attacks on Pakistani territory, Pakistan officially acknowledged carrying out air strikes against military targets in Iran.
Pakistan launched these strikes two days after Iran claimed to have hit military camps affiliated with Israel on Pakistani soil.
The strikes targeting the jihadist group Jaish al-Adl appear to have been launched by Iran on Pakistani territory.
Following a series of missile and drone attacks this week that raised concerns about increased instability in the region, Pakistan and Iran have decided to “defuse” tensions, according to Islamabad. The foreign ministries of Pakistan and Iran emphasized “fraternal relations” in a phone call on Friday, according to Islamabad.
However, this would represent a major escalation in the nuclear-armed neighbor’s territory. Less than a day had passed since Iranian missile strikes in Syria and Iraq, triggering a wave of carnage across the Middle East and beyond.
Although Pakistan and Iran, both armed with nuclear weapons, frequently accuse each other of allowing jihadists to operate from their territories, government forces rarely cross international borders.
Sistan-Baluchistan, one of the few predominantly Sunni counties in Shiite-majority Iran, experiences persistent unrest involving international drug traffickers, Baluch ethnic minority rebels, and jihadists. Additionally, terrorists have entered Pakistan to carry out attacks from the Iranian Baluchistan region.
Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the interim Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Foreign Minister of Iran, met on Tuesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. What they discussed was not evident from their conversation.
Pakistan strongly criticized Iran for its strikes, recalling its ambassador to Tehran and blocking the return of the Iranian envoy to Islamabad.
The Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the strikes as “complying with its obligations to prevent the establishment of armed terrorist bases and groups in Pakistan” and characterized Iran’s actions as “unbalanced and unacceptable.” These targeted precision strikes aimed to destroy terrorist strongholds in the Iranian province of Sistan-o-Baluchistan.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanani, stated, “This morning’s action was taken due to credible intelligence indicating imminent large-scale terrorist activities. The Charge d’Affaires of Pakistan, the country’s highest diplomat in Tehran, was summoned to provide explanations,” he added, specifying that Iran strongly opposes the strikes.
With rising tensions, China has encouraged both Iran and Pakistan, two close allies of Beijing, to “exercise calm and restraint” and has proposed to arbitrate the conflict.
In Pakistan, Iranian attacks claimed the lives of two youths.
The Pakistani air strikes on the southeast border of Iran on Thursday, on the other hand, resulted in nine deaths, including women and children.
The strikes on Thursday between Iran and Pakistan on each side of the border, according to U.S. President Joe Biden, showed that “Iran is not particularly appreciated in the region,” but they are “working on it.”
John Kirby, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, told reporters that the United States is closely monitoring the situation. “We want to avoid a certain escalation in South Asia and Central Asia. Additionally, we are in contact with our counterparts in Pakistan.” On Wednesday, the latest Iranian strikes in Syria and Iraq, as well as Iranian strikes in Pakistan, were condemned by the United States.
Both nations have been invited by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “exercise maximum restraint to avoid further escalation of tensions.”
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that for Mr. Guterres: “All security concerns between the two countries must be addressed through peaceful means through dialogue and cooperation, in accordance with the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and good neighborliness.”
The spokesperson for the European External Action Service, Peter Stano, said to Brussels Morning: “These attacks, including those that occurred in Pakistan, Iraq, and the Middle East, in Iran, are now of crucial importance to the European Union as they violate national sovereignty and territorial integrity and also have a destabilizing effect on the region and a spiral of violence in the Middle East and beyond.”
He added that our thoughts are with the families of the victims of these strikes and that, on the other hand, the European Union urges all relevant actors in the region to exercise maximum restraint and to work towards de-escalation, preferably through diplomatic means rather than military instruments.
The Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement saying:
“This morning, Pakistan undertook a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in the Sistan-o-Baluchistan province of Iran. A number of terrorists were killed during the intelligence-based operation – codenamed ‘Marg Bar Sarmachar.’
However, due to a lack of action on our serious concerns, these so-called Sarmachars continued to spill the blood of innocent Pakistanis with impunity. This morning’s action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large-scale terrorist activities by these so-called Sarmachars.”
In this statement, it is also mentioned that: “This action is a demonstration of Pakistan’s unyielding determination to protect and defend its national security against all threats. The successful execution of this highly complex operation also testifies to the professionalism of the Pakistan Armed Forces. Pakistan will continue to take all necessary steps to preserve the security of its people, which is sacred, inviolable, and sacrosanct.”
The ministry concludes with these words:
“As a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan upholds the principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter, including the territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states. Guided by these principles and in the exercise of our legitimate rights under international law, Pakistan will never allow its sovereignty and territorial integrity to be challenged under any pretext or circumstance. Iran is a brotherly country, and the people of Pakistan have great respect and affection for the Iranian people. We have always emphasized dialogue and cooperation in confronting common challenges, including the menace of terrorism, and will continue to strive for joint solutions.”