February, 23, 2024
Pakistan and Iran Exchange Strikes, Seek De-escalation

Pakistan and Iran Exchange Strikes, Seek De-escalation

Infostani International: Tensions flared as Pakistan retaliated with strikes on alleged Baloch separatist sites in Iran, responding to earlier Iranian actions within its borders. Despite the military exchange, both nations signaled a desire for de-escalation. China offered mediation, and the U.S. urged restraint. Pakistan’s Prime Minister cut short his visit for a crucial security meeting.

  • ‘Precision strikes’ result in the death of nine individuals at ‘BLA, BLF camps,’ prompting increased security in border districts.
  • Tehran deems the action ‘unacceptable.’
  • The National Security Council (NSC) is set to convene today as the Prime Minister curtails his Davos visit.
  • China extends an offer to mediate, expressing hope for restraint from both parties.
  • Biden asserts that the strikes indicate Iran’s lack of popularity.

Escalation in Pakistan-Iran Relations: Retaliatory Strikes and Diplomatic Tensions

On Thursday, Pakistan launched retaliatory strikes against targets within Iranian territory, targeting facilities linked to purported Pakistani Baloch separatist groups. Within 48 hours of Tehran claiming to have struck bases with another group within Pakistani territory, both countries engaged in conciliatory overtures by the end of Thursday, signaling a mutual interest in de-escalating tensions.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch initially acknowledged the operation, stating that Pakistan’s armed forces executed meticulously planned and coordinated strikes against terrorist strongholds in Iran’s Sistan-o-Baluchistan province. The operation, named ‘Marg Bar Sarmachar’, specifically targeted the banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), resulting in nine casualties identified as Pakistani nationals.

The retaliatory action by Pakistan was in response to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recent attacks on what Iran considers Jaish al-Adl bases in Pakistan. Intelligence sources revealed that Pakistani forces engaged at least seven militant sites near the Saravan region, approximately 80 kilometers from the Pakistan-Iran border. The military utilized advanced weaponry such as killer drones, rockets, loitering munitions, and fighter jets in precision strikes.

Before taking military action, Islamabad had already reduced diplomatic ties with Tehran, recalling its ambassador and expelling the Iranian envoy. The persistent issue of militant hideouts along the border has historically strained Pakistan-Iran relations, but the recent escalation marked a significant development.

Pakistan and Iran Exchange Strikes, Seek De-escalation
Ex-diplomats, pundits react to Pakistan’s ‘swift, proportionate response’ to Iran but call for de-escalation

International Reactions and Domestic Responses Following Pakistan-Iran Escalation

Despite the kinetic response, the Foreign Office and the Pakistani Army expressed a desire for de-escalation. Pakistan emphasized its commitment to dialogue and cooperation in addressing common challenges, including terrorism. Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the highest-ranking Pakistani diplomat in Tehran for an explanation, condemning Pakistan’s drone attack on non-Iranian villagers but expressing a commitment to maintaining friendly relations.

China offered to mediate between Iran and Pakistan, emphasizing its hope for calm and restraint. The United States, while monitoring the situation closely, expressed concern over the escalation and urged restraint on all sides. President Joe Biden remarked that the air strikes indicated Iran’s unpopularity in the region, and the White House emphasized the need to avoid escalation in South and Central Asia.

Following the retaliatory strike, Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar cut short his Davos visit, calling an emergency Cabinet Committee on National Security meeting. After the strike in Iran, authorities in Balochistan increased security measures, conducting a high-level meeting to assess the law and order situation in border regions and review arrangements for the upcoming general elections.