“Tehran would hit Terrorist bases inside Pakistan if Government does not confront Militant who carry out cross border attacks” – After these words of Major General Muhammad Baqeri, Head of Iranian Armed Forces on 9th May, Pakistani electronic and social media has lost the sense of practicality and an environment like both nations are going to the brink of war, is been escalated.
The dire need is to calm down our hyper nationalist and warrior feelings so we could understand the situation through diplomatic eye.
On 26th of April, 10 Iranian Border Force personals were killed by firing from Pakistani side allegedly by a group called Jash Al Adl – A Sunni militant group, which earlier has been accused of kidnapping Iranian Border Guards in 2014- After which Iran had threatened to send it’s ground forces inside Pakistan for the rescue operation.
On 4th May 2017, Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif visited Islamabad and conveyed the concerns of Tehran to PM, COAS and Interior Minister regarding the complexity of situation and desideratum to carry out an operation against the destabilizing elements.
The conundrum of Pakistan Iran relations has yet to be solved as two nations claim to be friendly with each other while on word affairs especially in counter terrorism, both have polices titled on 1800.
Since the killing of Mullah Mansoor in a US drone attack in Baluchistan when he was on his way back from Iran and the arrest of Former PPP aide Uzair Baloch on the allegation of providing information to Iranian secret agency along with an Iranian Passport; the relations between both nations are gradually going toward a closed street. Arrest of Spy Kulbhushan Jadav added insult to already injured Iranian image in Pakistan.
A sensible fraction of our society considers Iran – an ally of India and the one that is strengthening anti-Pakistan elements in Baluchistan so that CPEC/Gwadar port could not get operational. However, situation is slightly intricate.
Recently, Iran has cancelled the contract of Indian entity ONGC for gas exploration of its Frazad B oil field. In retaliation, Indian decided to cut its oil import by 3 million tons. Things became further fragile when as a pre emptive step; Tehran reduced the Window of Payment for the crude oil purchase from 90 to 60 days which affected the Freight discount for Indian state owned companies.
PM Modi’s promise to invest 500 million $ in Chah Bhar port has yet to be fulfilled as India doubts Iran’s regional behavior. On one side, they are welcoming Indian investment while on the other hand, they strive to put legs in CPEC. In an Oxbridge lecture in January, Iranian ambassador in Pak, Mehdi Honardoost said “Iran is eager to join CPEC with its full capabilities, possibilities and abilities”. This somehow complexes Iranian sense of policy making. This Shia dominant nation wants to swing at both ways, which would not be possible in Politics of South Asia especially when its neighbors have serious cooperation agreements with world powers including military pacts. Maya Marchandani wrote in NDTV opinions that Delhi will not hesitate to use its new-found leverage with Iran’s Sunni neighbours to push for a better deal for itself.
On our side, Pakistan should not devise its policy to counter Iranian aggression (so called) by reacting on a statement by Iranian armed forces which does not necessarily reflects their state policy and our headline loving media has to abstain itself through avoid shaping public opinion against our western neighbor.
Iran’s sponsored proxies in Middle East and defiance to comply with global community proves its dependency to deep rooted Idea of Shia nationalism. But in the past, Pakistan played its role to pacify Iranian concerns when President Zardari delivered the statement that Pakistan would not provide its bases to US, in case US decides to attack our neighbor (It was the peak of disagreement on Iran nuclear ambitions).
We should keep in mind that Iranian state is itself divided into two fractions, first are those, who strongly believe in Shia nationalism – the other fraction under the leadership of Hassan Rohani favors the sense of reality in dealing with global community. With the help of latter, the Iranian Govt successfully brokered Nuclear Deal with P5+1 in 2015.
In the same statement, the head of Iranian armed forces had further added, “We expect the Pakistani officials to control the borders, arrest the terrorists and shut down their bases”. So! For the sake of stability and peace, Pakistan has to listen and understand Iranian concerns.
Our two borders are already inflaming so we can’t afford near to brink of war situation at another side.
This unrealistic statement is not Iranian state’s call but must not be sidelines at the same time. After US drone Attack and killings of Iranian border guards- If Pakistan retaliates on Iranian Provocation, this border side would then need deployment of thousands of army personals and CPEC activities would have to be obstructed, which Pakistan can’t afford.
Iran can be engaged through economic and development agenda as the fall in oil prices and sanctions have hit Iran badly. On the appointment of Raheel Shareef as the head of Military Alliance, in which all nations are Sunni Majority, Iranian concerns are still there. During the Visit of Speaker, Ayaz Sadiq with a parliamentary delegation last month, Iranian President told him that Countries which had been involved in supporting terrorist group could not claim to be combating them. So! It seems that appointment of Raheel Sharif and Pakistan assurance would not give us a leverage to mediate between Saudia Arabia and Iran- the point which our policy makers were selling from last many weeks.
Whatever the Middle East situation is, but Pakistan should show practicality and diplomacy. Our domestic disillusions and already grilled situation on westerns and eastern border does not allow muscles showing in another front of western border. Especially when the state sponsored sectarianism divide has weaken us already.
On 19th of May, Presidential Elections will be held so till than centre of power is absent in Tehran – of which, their armed forces can take advantage, Pakistan needs to be aware of this.
Hope peace will prevail between both countries.
Picture Credits: Middle East Press