In a recent development, Pakistan carried out precision strikes using killer drones, rockets, and other weaponry against separatist Baloch militants inside Iran. This move follows Iran’s claim of attacking bases belonging to another group within Pakistani territory just two days earlier.
- Nature of the Operation: Pakistan’s foreign ministry labeled the strikes as an intelligence-based operation, targeting terrorist hideouts. The operation aimed to eliminate threats to Pakistan’s security and national interests, emphasizing the country’s commitment to Iran’s sovereignty.
- Casualties and Response: Iranian media reported casualties in Sistan-Baluchestan province, with conflicting reports on the number of fatalities. Iran strongly condemned the strikes, summoning Pakistan’s diplomat in Tehran for an explanation. In response, Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister cut short his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
- Military Alertness: A senior Pakistani security official stated that the military is on high alert, prepared to respond forcefully to any potential misadventure from the Iranian side.
- Targeted Groups: The strikes targeted bases used by the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and the associated Baloch Liberation Army. Iran had previously claimed to have hit bases of Jaish al Adl (JAA) inside Pakistan. Both BLF and JAA are ethnically Baloch, though their connections are unclear.
- Escalation Concerns: Despite recent positive diplomatic engagements, the strikes raise concerns about potential escalation. Analysts suggest that the motivation behind Iran’s attack on Pakistan is unclear, but tensions may rise given the crossing of a territorial threshold.
- International Impact: Pakistan’s retaliatory strikes led to a diplomatic strain, with the recall of the Pakistani ambassador from Iran. International bonds of Pakistan experienced a temporary decline following the incident.
- Context of Regional Instability: The region has witnessed increased tensions, including Iran’s actions in Syria and Iraq. The recent cross-border incidents add complexity to the geopolitical landscape, raising fears of further destabilization.
- Militant Groups and Their Objectives: The targeted groups operate in mineral-rich yet underdeveloped regions, posing challenges to both Pakistan and Iran. The BLF, which Pakistan targeted inside Iran, is engaged in armed insurgency against the Pakistani state. On the other hand, Jaish al Adl, targeted by Iran, has Sunni Islamist leanings and has previously targeted Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.