In a surprising turn of events on 16th January 2024, Pakistan and Iran, two neighboring nations, were engaged in a cross-border conflict, exchanging airstrikes. These airstrikes were a retaliation cycle.
Iran explained that the airstrike was not for Pakistan but for the Sunni separatist group Jaish al-Adl in southwestern Pakistan. 2 children and 2 other casualties were reported.
In response on Jan 18, Pakistani airstrikes named “Marg Bar Sarmachar” hit what they claimed were training camps of Baloch insurgents in southeastern regions of Iran namely Saravan and Jaleq. 9 were killed but the Iranian government stated that the 9 killed were not Iranian but were Pakistanis who settled in Iran.
The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs labeled Iran’s attack as an “unprovoked violation of its airspace,” while the Iranian Interior Minister condemned Pakistan’s retaliatory strikes.
Reason Behind the Pakistan vs Iran War
Here are the reasons behind the Pakistan vs Iran War:-
Pakistan Provides Hideouts to Terrorist Groups
The conflict revolves around accusations and counter-accusations. Tehran has accused Jaish al-Adl of carrying out attacks within Iran, claiming that Pakistan provides hideouts and support for the group. However, Islamabad denies these allegations.
Iran Supports Baloch Separatist Groups
Iran, a Shia-majority nation, had long supported Baloch separatist groups such as the Balochistan Liberation Army and the Baloch Liberation Front in Pakistan, viewing them as kin in their fight against Sunni dominance. Pakistan accuses Iran of sheltering these groups across the border, and of meddling in its internal affairs, stoking unrest in Balochistan and fueling sectarian tensions across the border. However, Iran denies this charge.
Gaza Highlights the Conflict
The conflict between Pakistan and Iran unfolds in a regional backdrop. The ongoing war between Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza has heightened tensions. Additionally, Iran’s involvement in Syria and Iraq, coupled with its airstrikes in response to a suicide bombing, adds complexity to the situation.
Pakistan vs Iran Re-building Ties
The whispers of diplomacy emerged from the ashes of war. Backdoor channels, established through intermediaries and neutral nations, began to explore the possibility of a ceasefire and peace talks. The shared history, the cultural ties, and the economic interdependence of the two nations offered a fragile foundation for rebuilding trust and forging a lasting peace.
In an attempt to lighten up the tensions, Pakistani Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani engaged in talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The two nations expressed a mutual commitment to de-escalate the situation, emphasizing the need for “mutual trust and cooperation.”
The spokesperson stated that Pakistan “fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, adding “The sole objective of today’s act was in pursuit of Pakistan’s security and national interest which is paramount and cannot be compromised”.
“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”.
Pakistan vs Iran Global Implications
The fear of further escalation could have been big, and people across the global expressed concern. The simultaneous opening of three fronts – Syria, Iraq, and now Pakistan – within a week raises questions about potential broader implications for the region.
Global Trade Interruption
On Jan 12, the US and Britain strike Yemen in reprisal for Houthi attacks on commercial shipping causing global trade interruptions. If this escalates, global trade will definitely get affected.
This is because the Sea routes that play an important role in international trade will be disturbed. The Israel vs Gaza war has already affected the trade through the Red Sea. The Houthi war affected the Gulf of Aden. The Persian Gulf has around the world’s 50% of oil and 30% of gas. This can lead to Oil prices surge, threatening global supply chains.
The Two Perspectives of the Pakistan vs Iran War
War is never a win for anyone but the question here is whether it was a tit-for-tat for Pakistan or a win-win situation for them.
One perspective of this story says that Pakistan may be behind all this. Baluchistan on which the airstrikes were done is a separatist area that is striving for freedom from the Pakistani Government. A war in that area has not done any harm to Pakistan. Along with this, Iran and Pakistan have been brotherly nations, and re-uniting them after both targeting only the Baluchistan region may be a conspiracy of Pakistan to affirm Pakistan’s strength from both ends.
Tit For Tat?
Other perspectives point out that Pakistan has long been known for terrorism and Pakistan is tasting its own shit as Iran wages war against Pakistan. It’s a tit-for-tat situation.
The international community watches closely, hoping for a peaceful resolution to avoid the devastating consequences of a full-fledged conflict. The roots of this conflict ran deep, tangled in a web of historical grievances, geopolitical rivalry, and sectarian fault lines.