After India and Afghanistan, it is Iran now to hurl threats at Pakistan.
Jolted as it is, over the recent attack by the Jaish-ul-Adl, the Iranian army chief warned that Tehran would hit bases inside Pakistan if the Pakistan government does not confront Jaish-ul-Adl’s “militants who carry out cross-border attacks.”
Ten Iranian border guards were killed last month in the attack that took place within Iranian territory, but Tehran insists that the militants had deployed long-range artillery to hit the guard post. The Iranian army chief went a step further, saying “Pakistan has become a ‘safe haven’ for training terrorists recruited by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States.” Jaish-ul-Adl had carried out attacks in the past too against Iranian security forces insisting they were in retaliation for alleged “discrimination against Sunnis in Iran.”
Across-the-border terrorist presence is a reality not confined to Pakistan. It is also the case with three of its neighbours who off and on threaten to conduct strikes inside Pakistan. Pakistan has suffered more than any of them at the hands of terrorists patronized and funded by neighbours. Sealing the borders against unlawful infiltration is certainly an option, but it would at an astronomical cost, given the huge distance and hundreds of miles of mountainous terrain involved.
The astronomical cost to be expected is a separate question of course. The solution to the dangers of cross-border terrorism for all the four countries happening to be its victims is neither in walling up the borders nor hitting the so-called safe havens. It is in discussing the menace on the negotiating table.
That Iran could get away with surgical strikes within Pakistan is nothing but a daydream. Being a victim of cross-border terrorism itself, and the most frequent one, although, Pakistan is most likely to respond in the same coin. Iran has to accept the realities on the ground. If attacks by Jaish-ul-Adl provoked Iran’s anger against Pakistan, with General Baqeri threatening “immediate, decisive and annihilating response,” the Iranian defence minister must have pricked ears in Riyadh too.
“If the Saudis do anything ignorant, we will leave no area untouched except Makkah and Madinah,” he warned – a tit-for-tat response to Saudi Arabia’s Prince Muhammad’s comment that should there be war across the Gulf, “we will work to have the battle in Iran rather than in Saudi Arabia.”
Tehran must realise that no country has suffered as much as Pakistan at the hands of militant entities, be they the work of Jaish-ul-Adl, the Islamic State or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). If there are terrorist safe havens in Pakistan they are also in Iran and Afghanistan. They are a common threat to peace and stability, demanding a joint approach. That is something Iran should start thinking about. -Business Recorder