Pakistan has recalled its ambassador to Tehran after Iran launched airstrikes on Pakistan, targeting bases for a militant Sunni separatist group. This attack, which killed two children in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, has angered Islamabad and put a strain on diplomatic relations between the two neighboring countries.
The airstrikes signaled growing tensions between Iran and Pakistan, which have long been suspicious of each other over militant attacks. This latest incident added to the unrest in the Middle East, where Iran was also involved in strikes in Iraq and Syria in response to an Islamic State-claimed suicide bombing that killed over 90 people.
The spokesperson for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the country is recalling its ambassador to Iran in response to the strikes. Iran claimed that its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard targeted bases for the militant group Jaish al-Adl, seeking an independent Baluchistan and operating across Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.
The militant group Jaish al-Adl acknowledged the assault, claiming that six bomb-carrying drones and rockets struck homes, killing two children and injuring two women and a teenage girl. Pakistan issued a strong protest with Iran’s Foreign Ministry, denouncing the attack as a violation of its sovereignty and summoning an Iranian diplomat in Islamabad. Pakistan also announced that Iran’s envoy in Islamabad will not be allowed to return.
The attack has stirred strong condemnation from Pakistani officials and sparked debates about potential retaliation and measures to respond to such strikes from its western border with Afghanistan and Iran. The country’s air defense and missile systems, primarily deployed to respond to potential threats from India, might need to be reassessed in light of these developments.
The emergence of Jaish al-Adl in 2012 has heightened tensions, with Iranian officials attributing its operations to Pakistan, further straining the relationship between the two neighbors. While Iran has fought against militants in border areas previously, the missile and drone strike on Pakistan is unprecedented and has put a strain on bilateral relations. The exact reason for Iran’s attack remains unclear, as it came following a meeting between Iran’s foreign minister and Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The situation is further complicated by the long-standing insurgency by Baluch nationalists in both Pakistan’s Baluchistan province and Iran’s neighboring Sistan and Baluchestan province. This insurgency, seeking a share of provincial resources and later independence, has been ongoing for over two decades, adding another dimension to the tensions between the two countries.
As the situation unfolds, the repercussions of these strikes on the delicate balance of power in the region are yet to be fully realized, but they signal a potential escalation in the already complex and volatile landscape of the Middle East.