Both India and Iran were victims of terror attacks from the Pakistan-based outfits last week. A Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) trained Kashmiri youth rammed an explosives-filled vehicle into a convoy carrying personnel of the CRPF, killing over 44. A day earlier, on February 13, 27 personnel of the Iran Revolutionary Guards were dead and another 13 injured in an attack when they were moving between the cities of Zahedan and Khash on border with Pakistan. The attack was claimed by Jaish al-Adl, a terrorist group. A special report by Dr Hassan Mehmood
Pakistan failed to get Saudi Arabian support for its current tiff with India over terror attack at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. But in an apparent Sunni-Shia diplomatic and political play, it got the latter to condemn Iran during the recent visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The difference in the stance appeared to be prompted by the strong resolve between India and Iran to forge closer cooperation on combating terrorism coming from common source: Pakistan.
“Enough is enough,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Aragchchi declared after a meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Following this India-Iran interaction, Islamabad adopted a conciliatory approach towards an angry Tehran. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi offered to send a team to Iran, while no such specific offer has been made to India.
The regional inter-play of adversaries took place as Pakistan hosted Crown Prince Salman to fulfilll what sections of Pakistani media called “our current obsession.”
Both India and Iran were victims of terror attacks from the Pakistan-based outfits last week. A Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) trained Kashmiri youth rammed an explosives-filled vehicle into a convoy carrying personnel of the CRPF, killing over 40.
A day earlier, on February 13, 27 personnel of the Iran Revolutionary Guards were dead and another 13 injured in an attack when they were moving between the cities of Zahedan and Khash on border with Pakistan. The attack was claimed by Jaish al-Adl, a terrorist group. Pakistani as also international media have noted that the all-important visit of Prince Salman was overshadowed by the twin attacks in India and Iran, both suspected to be the handwork of Pakistan-based terror groups.
While the Saudi side was not willing to toe the Pakistani line vis-à-vis India, since the Crown Prince was scheduled to visit India, it did not spare the Iranians, their principal adversaries in the region.
The adversarial relationship is dominated by the fact that Pakistan has Sunni majority, but a significant Shia population that often faces discrimination and violence.
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, travelling with the crown prince accused Iran of “sponsoring terrorism for decades”, saying it was “strange [for] the foreign minister of the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism to accuse others of engaging in terrorist activities”.
The Saudi minister also questioned how Iran — which he called “the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism” — could accuse others of engaging in terrorist activities.
However, the visiting minister adopted a different stance when questioned by Pakistani media about Pakistan’s relations with India in the light of the latest Pulwama terror attack,
He said that Saudi Arabia’s “objective” was to “try to de-escalate tensions” between the two South Asians. He hoped that both countries would be able to resolve the dispute between them “peacefully”.
The Iran-Pakistan border region has in the past witnessed several incidents and last October, Pakistan had helped Iran recover some of the guards abducted by Jaish al-Adl.
Without specifically naming Pakistan’s ISI, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has blamed the attack on “the spying agencies of some regional and trans-regional countries”.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards accused Pakistan of turning a blind eye to the terror group. Its Commander Maj Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari alleged that the group had sanctuaries on Pakistani soil. He said Iran would retaliate against the terrorist group if Pakistan did not act.
Ms Swaraj had an impromptu stopover at Tehran on way to Bulgaria when she met the deputy Iranian minister. The latter posted a strong statement on the twitter: ““Iran and India suffered from two heinous terrorist attacks in the past few days [that] resulted in big casualties. Today in my meeting with Sushma Swaraj, the Indian FM, when she had a stopover in Tehran, we agreed on close cooperation to combat terrorism in the region. Enough is enough!”
The matter was also discussed during a meeting of Iran’s parliamentary body on National Security and Foreign Policy. Iranian official newswire IRNA quoted the spokesman for the parliamentary commission Ali Najafi Khoshravi as having said: “One of the issues that was raised in the National Security Commission today was that terrorist groups use the Pakistani territory to take actions against Iran. He noted that Pakistan was unable to control its border with Iran.