By RFE/RL January 17, 2024
Pakistan has recalled its ambassador from Iran in response to strikes by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) that killed two children in the southwestern Balochistan Province.
The decision was announced by a Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman on January 17, just a day after Iraq recalled its envoy from Tehran after civilians were killed in an IRGC missile strike in Irbil.
“Last night’s unprovoked and blatant breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty by Iran is a violation of international law and the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,” the spokesman said in the statement, adding that the Iranian ambassador had not been allowed to return to Islamabad from Tehran “for the time being.”
The statement added that Pakistan “reserves the right to respond to this illegal act” and that Iran bears responsibility for the “consequences” of the attack.
The governor of Sindh Province, who was on a four-day visit to Iran to participate in a Joint Border Trade Committee meeting and attend the 2024 Chahbahar Expo, announced the cancellation of his trip and returned to Karachi late on January 17.
Speaking to media at the Karachi airport, Governor Kamran Tessori said he had asked all traders to return to Pakistan. This included a 50-member delegation of traders accompanying him to the expo.
The IRGC on January 16 struck targets in Balochistan that it said were linked to the Sunni Baluch militant group Jaish al-Adl. The other missile attacks targeted “spy headquarters” and “terrorist” targets in Syria and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.
The IRGC attack in Pakistan killed two children and injured three others, according to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry.
The United States condemned the attacks, and Britain urged Iran to stop supplying weapons to the Huthis.
“We’ve seen Iran violate the sovereign borders of three of its neighbors in just the past couple of days,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he urged Tehran to stop backing the Huthi rebels in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
“Iran must cease supplying the Huthis with weapons and intelligence and use its influence to stop Huthi attacks in the Red Sea,” said Cameron, who is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“Iran must also stop using the regional situation as cover to act recklessly and violate others’ sovereignty. I made this clear to FM @Amirabdolahian,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.
The IRGC-linked Tasnim news agency was the first outlet in Iran to report the strikes in Pakistan late on January 16, claiming two bases operated by Jaish al-Adl had been targeted and “destroyed.”
Tasnim reported that a combination of drones and missiles was used to attack a village in Balochistan Province, which is located in southwestern Pakistan on the border with Iran.
As reports of the attack spread on social media, Amir-Abdollahian had met with Pakistani acting Prime Minister Anwar ul-Haq Kakar at the World Economic Forum.
The strikes appeared to be a response to recent attacks claimed by Jaish al-Adl, which is designated as a terrorist organization by both Iran and the United States.
The group took responsibility for a deadly attack on a police station in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan Province last month that killed at least 11 officers. Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said after the incident that Jaish al-Adl fighters had entered Iran from Pakistan.
In its first statement on Telegram, Jaish al-Adl said the strikes had missed its military bases “in Iran” and had struck the homes of its fighters in Pakistan.
“With God’s grace and the enemy’s poor intelligence and technical know-how, no harm was inflicted on the mujahedin [fighters],” the group said in a second statement on January 17.
The porous, 900-kilometer-long border between Iran and Pakistan has proven difficult to control, allowing various insurgent groups, particularly those who harbor Baluch nationalist ideologies, to operate in the area.
Jaish al-Adl is the most prominent offshoot of the Salafist militant group Jundullah, which was established in 2003 and splintered after its founder, Abdolmalek Rigi, was executed by Iran in 2010.
With reporting by AFP
Copyright (c) 2024. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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