Infostani International: Over the Last Decade, cross-border tensions between Pakistan and Iran have been punctuated by incidents of hostilities. The recent attack by Iran on Tuesday, targeting alleged bases of Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan, adds to a history of strained relations. Explore the concise timeline below for key moments shaping this complex dynamic.
Escalating Tensions Along the Pakistan-Iran Border: A Decade of Hostilities and Recent Retaliations
Less than 48 hours after Iran carried out an airstrike on Pakistan, Islamabad retaliated by targeting locations within Iranian territory in an operation codenamed ‘Marg Bar Sarmachar.’
On Tuesday, Iran launched attacks in Pakistan, striking what it described as bases for the militant group Jaish al-Adl in the border town of Panjgur in Balochistan, as reported by state media. This action prompted strong condemnation from Islamabad, leading to the downgrading of diplomatic ties.
The Iranian strikes were part of a series of recent attacks in Syria and Iraq as a response to terrorist incidents on its own soil. These events raised concerns about regional stability, particularly amid ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
By Thursday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced that Pakistan had conducted an intelligence-based operation targeting “hideouts used by terrorist organizations, namely Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF).”
In an op-ed for Dawn, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, former foreign secretary of Pakistan, highlighted the generally cordial relations between the two countries over the decades, with only a few minor disputes.
Despite this, recent escalations have added to concerns, and instances of hostility along the Pakistan-Iran border have occurred in the Last Decade:
- February 2014: Five Iranian border guards were abducted, leading to strained relations due to speculation about traversing Pakistani territory.
- May 2014: Iranian border guards fatally shot a Pakistani national near the Pak-Iran border, causing tensions.
- October 2014: Iranian border guards attacked a vehicle of Frontier Corps inside Pakistani territory, resulting in casualties and hostage-taking.
- December 2014: Iranian border guards fired rockets in Balochistan’s Kech district, injuring Pakistani civilians.
- July 2015: Iranian border guards fired mortar shells inside Pakistan near Balochistan’s Soorap area.
- April 2017: Ten Iranian border guards were killed in an attack, leading to protests and assurances from Pakistan to prevent cross-border attacks.
- June 2017: Pakistan downed an Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in Balochistan’s Panjgur.
- April 2018: Three Iranian security personnel were killed in Mirjaveh, leading to tensions.
- October 2018: Twelve Iranian security personnel were kidnapped, with Jaish al-Adl claiming responsibility.
- December 2018: A suicide car bomb attack in Chabahar led to tensions, with Iran attributing it to “foreign-backed terrorists.”
- February 2021: Iran conducted an intelligence operation inside Pakistan’s territory to free kidnapped security personnel.
- September 2021: Pakistan reported a soldier’s martyrdom in cross-border firing from inside Iranian territory.
- January 2023: Militants used Iranian soil to target a convoy, resulting in the death of four Pakistani security personnel.
- April 2023: Four Pakistani soldiers were martyred in a terrorist attack along the Pak-Iran border.
- June 2023: Two Pakistani soldiers were martyred in an armed attack at a security checkpoint close to the border with Iran.
- December 2023: Eleven Iranian police officers were killed in an attack by Jaish al-Adl on a police station in Rask.
- January 2024: Iran violated Pakistan’s airspace and carried out missile attacks, leading to Pakistan’s response and subsequent conciliatory gestures from both countries to de-escalate tensions.