The Foreign Office on Thursday announced that Pakistan staged a series of “highly coordinated and specifically targeted” precision military strikes against suspected terrorist hideouts in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province, killing a number of terrorists in intelligence-based Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar.
The apparently retaliatory strike followed Iran, a day earlier, using drones and missiles to violate Pakistan’s airspace, targeting what it claimed were hideouts of the militant Jaish al-Adl in Balochistan’s Pangjur. However, Islamabad said the airstrike had struck a mosque, killing two children and injuring three girls, triggering an outpouring of anger. Following the strike, Pakistan expelled Iran’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy from Tehran. It also warned Tehran that it reserved the right to respond to this “illegal act.”
In its statement, the Foreign Office noted that Pakistan had consistently shared with Iran its concerns regarding safe havens and sanctuaries of Pakistani origin terrorists—who call themselves Sarmachars—in ungoverned spaces inside Iran. “Pakistan also shared multiple dossiers with concrete evidence of the presence and activities of these terrorists,” it said, regretting that a lack of action on these serious concerns had seen the Sarmachars continue to spill the blood of innocent Pakistanis with impunity. “This morning’s action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large scale terrorist activities by these so called Sarmachars,” it added. According to sources, Pakistan’s strike hit seven targets at three different locations in Sarawan; Sham-e-Sar; and Hanag.
Confirming the strike, Iranian state media said seven people were killed near Sarawan, adding the deceased were not Iranian citizens.
Stressing that Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar was a manifestation of Pakistan’s unflinching resolve to protect and defend its national security against all threats, the Foreign Office said its successful execution also testified to the professionalism of the Pakistan Armed Forces. “Pakistan will continue to take all necessary steps to preserve the safety and security of its people, which is sacrosanct, inviolable and sacred,” it added.
Maintaining that Pakistan fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran, the statement stressed that the “sole objective of today’s act was in pursuit of Pakistan’s own security and national interest, which is paramount and cannot be compromised.”
The Foreign Office maintained that, as a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan upholds the principles and purposes of the U.N. Charter, including territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states. “Guided by these principles, and in exercise of our legitimate rights within international law, Pakistan will never allow its sovereignty and territorial integrity to be challenged, under any pretext or circumstances,” it stressed.
“Iran is a brotherly country and the people of Pakistan have great respect and affection for the Iranian people. We have always emphasized dialogue and cooperation in confronting common challenges including the menace of terrorism and will continue to endeavor to find joint solutions,” it added.
Separately, on Wednesday night, interim Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani talked to his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian, underscoring that the attack conducted by Tehran inside Pakistani territory was not only a serious breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty but also an egregious violation of international law and the spirit of bilateral relations between the neighboring states.
Expressing Pakistan’s unreserved condemnation of the attack, Jilani stressed that the incident had seriously damaged bilateral ties between the two states. He also warned that Pakistan reserved the right to respond to this provocative act. Stressing that terrorism was a common threat to the region and required concerted and coordinated efforts to combat this menace, the caretaker underlined that unilateral actions could seriously undermine regional peace and stability. “No country in the region should tread this perilous path,” he added.