QUETTA: Pakistan and Iran on Friday agreed to take joint steps to fight militant groups and curb the menace of cross-border terrorism. Pakistan assured the Iranians that it would make all possible efforts for the recovery of five kidnapped Iranian border guards.
High level officials from both sides met for a third day to remove misunderstandings which had developed in the aftermath of the abduction of the five border guards.
“Pakistan will strictly act if we get any information regarding the presence of kidnapped Iranian soldiers on our soil,” Chief Secretary Balochistan, Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad told reporters at a joint press conference in Quetta.
The guards were seized on February 6 in the Iranian province of Sistan-Balochistan by militants who allegedly took them across the border to Pakistan. A Sunni- militant group, Jaish ul Adl (Party of Justice), had claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
Following the incident, the Iranian interior minister had threatened to send troops into Pakistani territory if the abducted soldiers were not recovered.
The three-day meeting of officials from both sides thoroughly discussed border issues, trade, extradition of criminals, fisheries and violations of the international border.
The chief secretary said that both countries have decided to form a joint committee comprising senior officials from both sides to keep a vigilant eye on border violations and other issues relating to the Pakistan-Iran border.
He said the committee would present its report to the border commission after three months, adding that both sides have agreed to boost coordination to avoid misunderstanding and promote bilateral relations. “Less communication can lead to misunderstandings,” he said.
Ali Asghar Shikari, the deputy governor of Sistan-Balochistan who was representing the Iranian delegation, expressed serious concern over the kidnapping and said that the incident had harmed the feelings of the Iranian people. “It is important for us to address the issue of kidnapping of the border guards,” he told reporters during the joint press conference.
He said that the Pakistani delegation had passionately listened and assured cooperation with regard to the recovery of Iranian kidnapped border guards. “Some militant groups have vicious plans to disturb us,” he said.
Shikari said that the next meeting of the joint border commission would be held in Sistan-Balochistan on August 24 to discuss issues relating to the border. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Governor and Chief Minister Balochistan had already been invited by the Iranian government to visit the country.