The warning from Iran’s chief of armed forces Mohammad Hossein Bagheri to hit militant bases inside Pakistan if militants’ are not dealt with maybe a reaction to accepting the position of head of the Saudi Arabia-led 41-nation Islamic military alliance by former army chief General Raheel Sharif, well placed sources revealed to Business Recorder
. The warning by the Iranian army chief has baffled Foreign Office, as the incident where 8 Iranian body guards were killed in clashes with militants from Pakistan’s side of the border took place on April 27 – well before the visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif to Pakistan on 3 May.
Zarif held a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Javed Qamar Bajwa in a cordial environment, informed sources revealed to Business Recorder. “The meeting between them [PM, CoAS and Zarif] took place in a cordial environment and everything was sorted out. And then some days after Zarif left for Iran, there came the warning from the Iranian army chief, which was definitely a reaction to General Raheel’s departure to Saudi Arabia,” said a military sources.
Raheel Sharif left for Riyadh on April 20 to head the Saudi-led military alliance reportedly after he had procured approval from GHQ as well as the government. Sources within the military further stated that the statement by the Iranian army chief after meetings between Iranian foreign minister with the Prime Minister Sharif and CoAS General Bajwa in a conducive environment is beyond comprehension.
They said before a harsh statement by Iranian top military general, Afghanistan had also warned that unless Pakistan destroys the ‘safe havens’ of militants, the relations between the two neighbours will not improve. According to military sources, the back to back statements from Iran and Afghanistan are reflective of attempts by India to protect and enhance its proxies through Iran.
“India has considerable influence in Iran as it is making heavy investments there and it thought it was time to cash in on at a time when General Raheel left for Saudi Arabia. India is putting pressure on Pakistan to compel a reversal of the decision taken by the military court sentencing its spy Kulboshan Jadhav to death,” they added. A day after the Iranian warning, the Foreign Office on May 9, cautioned Tehran that a warning issued by the Iranian army chief was against the “spirit of brotherly relations” between Pakistan and Iran.
The FO summoned Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost to convey Pakistan’s concerns regarding a warning issued by Major General Mohammad Baqeri that Tehran would hit ‘militant safe havens’ inside Pakistan if the government did not confront militants who carried out cross-border attacks last month.
During his meeting with the ambassador, FO Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria, urged Iran to refrain from making statements that would harm relations. Zakaria said an agreement had already been reached to “enhance co-operation on border issues” during the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on May 3. Zarif in his visit had asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to improve border security, and Pakistan had assured Iran it would deploy additional troops along its border.
Noted security analyst Brigadier Asad Munir Khan (Retd) said that warning from Iran was in retaliation to a statement by Saudi defence minister Mohammad bin Salman al Saud who stated that they had no intention of including Iran in the Sunni -led Islamic alliance.
“They [Iranians] are already upset after Raheel Sharif opted to lead the alliance and the open statement by Saudi defence minister certainly upset Iranians and this kind of reaction from Tehran was very much expected as they are not happy with Pakistan’s decision to send its former general to lead the controversial alliance,” he added.-Business Recorder