ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday dismissed an Iranian protest over the killing of its border guards by militants, but offered cooperation for improving security along the border.
“This incident took place on Iranian soil,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at the weekly briefing.
Ten Iranian guards were killed in the attack claimed by Jaish-ul-Adl on Wednesday night near the Pakistan-Iran border. The guards were patrolling in the Iranian town of Mirjaveh, about 75km east of Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province.
FO also asks world to take notice of Indian hand in terrorist activities in Pakistan
Border security has been a major irritant in bilateral relations that have been marred by mutual mistrust. Iranians accuse Pakistan of turning a blind eye to the presence of terrorist groups along the border from where they have carried out several attacks in their territory. The bilateral border mechanism, established for dealing with this matter, hasn’t been functioning effectively.
The Iranian foreign ministry strongly reacted to the guards’ killing. The spokesman for Iran’s foreign minister, Bahram Ghasemi, in a statement said the Pakistani government should be held accountable for the alleged presence and operation of terrorist groups in its territory. He scoffed at Pakistan’s participation in the 41-nation alliance for fighting terrorism, saying “the countries that are participating in the anti-terrorist coalition should respond why they are unable to deal with terrorist groups and armed bandits in their territories”.
Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost visited the FO to convey his government’s concern, where he met Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi.
“Pakistan reaffirmed its full cooperation with the government of Iran for strengthening coordination and security along the border. In this regard, the relevant authorities of the two countries are in contact with each other,” the FO said after the meeting in which Mr Fatemi conveyed Pakistan government’s condolences over the lives lost in the attack.
Commenting on the video statement of former Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, Mr Zakaria asked the international community to take note of Indian hand in terrorism in Pakistan.
“The international community should take note of Indian state’s sponsorship of activities of subversion, terrorism and financing of terrorists against Pakistan. India clearly stands exposed as a state sponsoring and financing terrorists. Confession of Kulbhushan Jadhav and now revelations by Ehsanullah Ehsan are irrefutable proof against India,” he said.
Ehsan in the statement had said the Indian intelligence agency RAW and the Afghan spy outfit National Directorate of Security funded and facilitated the actions of Pakistani terrorists having sanctuaries on Afghan soil.
The spokesman said Jadhav and Ehsan episodes pointed to the “larger issue of Indian state involvement in perpetrating terrorism in Pakistan, a sovereign state”.
Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2017