Home Editorial Editorial: The Trouble with Iran

Editorial: The Trouble with Iran

After Afghanistan, Pakistan must now also take steps to fence its border with Iran to consolidate its sovereignty in the region

by Editorial

File photo of a Pakistani border security official, right, meeting his Iranian counterpart at the Pak-Iran border town of Taftan. AFP

On Wednesday, Iran violated Pakistan’s airspace, firing drones and missiles into Balochistan province in an assault it claimed targeted bases of the militant Jaish al-Adl group. However, Islamabad said the strikes actually struck a mosque, killing two children and injuring three girls. The Foreign Office subsequently recalled its ambassador from Tehran and also expelled Iran’s envoy to Islamabad, while warning it reserved the right to respond to this “illegal act.” This threat was fulfilled on Thursday morning, with Islamabad staging Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar, a series of “precision” military strikes on terrorist hideouts in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province. While Pakistan described it as solely in pursuit of its “own security and national interest,” the strike was naturally perceived as retaliatory to maintain deterrence after Iran’s warmongering act.

The sorry affair, unfortunately, highlights Pakistan’s porous borders, which render it vulnerable to outfits from outside its territory targeting its forces—and vice versa. A similar situation has played out in Afghanistan, whose soil the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) uses to orchestrate attacks on Pakistan’s security forces and civilians. In recent years, Pakistan and Iran have repeatedly exchanged concerns over safe havens for groups such as the Baloch Liberation Army and the Jasih al-Adl, respectively, on each other’s soil.

Pakistan’s traditional focus has been its eastern border with India, leading to a neglect of its shared borders with Iran and Afghanistan, allowing the passage of extremist groups that pose a growing and significant threat to its sovereignty. Islamabad’s fencing of its border with Afghanistan has aimed to correct this, to varying results, but Iran’s most recent actions suggest this measure might require further extensions. Pakistan can no longer afford to ignore the need to consolidate its sovereignty on the Pak-Iran border, demarcating the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan from the Pakistani province of Balochistan, and spanning roughly 565 miles.

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