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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Iran-Pakistan rift widens after killings of 5 border guards

Iranian border guard commander Ahmad Ali Goudarzi advised Pakistan to observe “good neighbourliness and not allow terror activities to be carried out from within their country”. Goudarzi issued the warning to its eastern neighbour on Monday in a television interview, adding that “we have limited patience”.

Though the Iranian commander did not call out Pakistan by name, Goudarzi said that Iran’s neighbours should not allow terror groups “to carry out anti-security activities from inside their country”. The commander was referring to the killing of five Iranian border guards on Sunday by an armed group that reportedly crossed the border from Pakistan and escaped back after the attack.

The killings took place in Saravan, near Iran’s border with Pakistan, in the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan. The funeral for the five slain army and border security men took place in Zahedan – the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, on Monday with priests from both the Shia and Sunni communities attending the funeral.

The Iranian border guard, also called Faraja Border Guard, protects the Iranian land border as well as provides coast guard duties for the country’s maritime border.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry had reacted to the audacious cross-border attack on Sunday itself.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said that Pakistan, from which the terrorists had tried to illegally enter Iran, is expected to fulfil mutual agreements on countering terrorist groups. The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that Kanaani urged Pakistan to do more to provide security along the border.

Kanaani said: “Iran believes that the terrorist attack on border guards was an attempt to damage cooperation and friendly relations between Tehran and Islamabad, especially after a May 18 visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province”. He urged Islamabad to implement bilateral agreements on action against terrorist groups operating from Pakistan.

On Thursday, just days before the attack, Sharif and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had inaugurated border projects to boost economic cooperation and trade between the two nations. The two leaders also signed an agreement over the transfer of electricity from Iran to Pakistan.

The inauguration ceremony included opening up of the Mand-Pishin border market, and was attended by Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb and Power Minister Khurram Dastagir.

The Iran-Pakistan border which is called the Goldsmith Line has not been accepted by the Baloch masses on both sides of the border.

The Iran-Pakistan border is a hyper-volatile border that thrives on the smuggling of weapons, drugs, petroleum products and food items. Clashes on the border are common also due to sectarian clashes between the Shias and the Sunnis, ethnic groups and the frequent movement of armed outfits.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)

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