OpinionsFresh tensions between Pakistan and Iran complicating West Asian situation further

Fresh tensions between Pakistan and Iran complicating West Asian situation further


By Tirthankar Mitra

Relations between Pakistan and Iran are on a boil. It is teetering on the edge of a precipice. Both countries should step back. It is time to talk it over at the diplomatic level replacing the armed incursions the duo has carried out within each other's borders to punish “rebels”.

Earlier this week, Iran had carried out air strikes in Balochistan, a Pakistani province against Jaish al-Ada, a Sunni group which has carried out attacks within Iran. Indeed there are reports of increased Jaish al-Ada activities. But that is no excuse to launch an airstrike.

Going by Pakistan's claims two minors have died in the attack which violated its airspace too. Having recalled it's envoy in Tehran, Pakistan registered its protest with the Iranian ministry of foreign affairs together with suspending bilateral visits.

But instead of limiting its displeasure to diplomatic tit for tat, Pakistan launched an air strike in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province. It target was stated to be “Pakistan-origin terrorists” with bases in Iran.

To trek to the root of a conflict which may escalate, the motive of Iran's strike remains unclear. It has carried out similar attacks in Syria and Iraq of late. It may be the unfolding of a long ranging strategy in view of the Hamas-Israel war. From that view point, Tehran may be flexing its muscles.

The worsening of bilateral relations between two Islamic Republics brings no cheer. It must not be lost sight of that some Muslim minorities have not found not adequate representation or equal rights in both the countries.

Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan has a large area and a sparse population. While there is broad cultural and linguistic affinity among the Baloch populace, significant differences of sect, class and tribe exist.

The differences often erupts in violence. Moreover, both Iran and Pakistan have treated have treated the Balochs with suspicion and discrimination. Separatist groups as well as external players have been known to fish in these troubled waters. Meanwhile, the powers that be in Islamabad and Tehran have accused each other of not doing enough to solve the problem.

There is no concealment of the fact that Jaish al-Ada, a Sunni-Salafist group operating from Pakistan aims to form a seperate state of Sistan-Balochistan carved out of Iran. Separatist groups have used the borders of the two countries as bases to operate against each other.

This is the backdrop of the two air strikes. But neither can afford escalation of this conflict. Mired in deep economic crisis, Pakistan already has militarised borders with and Afghanistan. Iran is already involved in several proxy wars in West Asia and Israel -Hamas conflict is only one of them.

Beyond the present moment, government and armies need to cease their support to terrorism. Instead of air strikes and proxy wars, tension can be reduced by chalking out long term solutions to the problems of disaffected minorities in both the countries.

(IPA Service)




The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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