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IRAN-PAKISTAN BORDER TENSIONS

WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Recently, Iran launched the first missile strike, hitting a terror base in Pakistan’s Baluchistan.

MORE ABOUT THE NEWS:

  • Iran launched a missile and drone attack at terror camps in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province last week.
  • Iran’s target was Jaish al-Adl, which operates in Pakistan and Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province.
  • Jaish al-Adl is same organisation which had claimed responsibility for an attack on an Iranian police station in December.
  • In response to missile attacks, Pakistan has launched attacks on Iran’s Sistan- Baluchistan province against what it termed “terrorist hideouts” which killed nine, and recalled its ambassador in Tehran.

  • Both countries foreign ministers have now spoken and defused tensions.

ABOUT BALOCHISTAN REGION:

  • It takes its name from the Baloch tribe, who began inhabiting the area centuries ago.
  • The area has long been fought over and divided by rulers including the Persians and Britishers.
  • The largest portion of the Balochistan region is in south western Pakistan, which it joined in 1948 after independence.

  • Comprising of 44% of the total landmass, it is Pakistan’s largest province.
  • It is arid, largely desert landscape and country’s least inhabited and least economically developed region and has been blighted by problems for decades.
  • It has a long history of resistance against the government of Pakistan, and militant insurgencies by groups fighting for an independent state for the Baloch people.
  • The fighting for an independent state began in 1948, emerging again in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and significantly post-2003.
  • The reason for separation is that they feel that their region was neglected in terms of development and political representation,thus fuelling resentment towards the ruling establishment.
  • Thus, in response to the militant insurgency, Pakistan’s military, paramilitary and intelligence forces have overseen a long-running and bloody counterinsurgency and crackdown on the region, with tens of thousands of people “disappeared”, tortured and killed with impunity.

CAUSES OF RECENT MISSILE ATTACKS:

  • According to experts, Iran launched the strikes in retaliation for the two attacks over the last few weeks: one killed 94 people attending a memorial for a general and the other killed a commander.
  • Iran also fired missiles at Islamic State militants in Syria, in response to a bombing that killed scores of people at a commemoration for the famed commander Qassem Soleimani in central Iran
  • According to Iran spokesperson, “they launched the strikes to send a message to its people and regional powers that Iran remains strong on national security.”
  • After the strikes had taken place, Pakistan’s army had little option but to retaliate given reputational concerns.
  • Pakistan too suffered serious setbacks with internal political instability and terror attacks that have killed scores of people.

IMPACT ON WEST ASIA CRISIS:

  • Iran’s strikes on Pakistan, Iraq and Syria, raised concerns that Iran’s actions would worsen the crisis already caused by Israel’s war in Gaza and Houthi retaliation on ships in the Red Sea.
  • Iran also backs Houthis in Yemen, along with a number of other “resistance” forces like Hezbollah and groups in Iraq and Syria.

INDIA & OTHER NATIONS RESPONSE:

  • As per Indian spokesperson, “We have an uncompromising position of zero tolerance towards terrorism. We understand actions that countries take in their self-defence”.
  • Observers said that Indian stance showed a tilt toward Iran.
  • New Delhi and Tehran have long maintained a dialogue on terrorism and security, with a wary eye on Islamabad’s policies in the region.
  • The USA condemned Iran’s strikes in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.
  • According to Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, “The two should avoid actions that escalate the tension and jointly keep the region peaceful and stable. China urges both sides to exercise restrain.”
  • Russia also expressed alarm at the Iran-Pakistan mutual attacks, however, calling on Tehran and Islamabad to solve their differences through diplomacy.

WAY FORWARD:

  • As Washington focuses on the implications of an Iranian nuclear weapons program for security in West Asia, notably Israel. The implications are no less serious for the stability of South Asia.
  • A nuclear Iran bordering nuclear Pakistan and allied to nuclear India could trigger a crisis of massive proportions.

The post IRAN-PAKISTAN BORDER TENSIONS appeared first on Vajirao IAS.

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