ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Tuesday assured Iran of Pakistan’s cooperation in tracing some of its guards who were abducted near the border between the two countries earlier in the day.
“No effort will be spared to assist our Iranian brothers in finding the Iranian guards,” the FO said in a statement issued late in the evening after Tehran protested over the kidnapping of its guards from a region bordering Pakistan and sought cooperation for their recovery.
The border guards were kidnapped by militants from a post in Mirjaveh region close to the border with Pakistan’s Balochistan province. There were varying reports about the number of kidnapped guards. Some media reports said 11 had been taken hostage, others put the number at 14, but the FO statement said they were 12 in number.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran in a statement held the agents of “anti-[Islamic] Revolution terrorist groups” and “foreign [spy] agencies” responsible for the incident. The IRGC vowed to go after the terrorists and infiltrators involved in the kidnapping.
According to Iranian media, Jaish al-Adl, a terrorist group operating in the region, had claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
The FO said: “Both militaries, under a joint mechanism established since last year, are working to ascertain the whereabouts of Iranian guards. DGMOs from two sides are coordinating actions in this regard.”
Pakistan’s reaction came after its envoy was asked to cooperate for the recovery of the abducted guards in view of the bilateral agreements and international obligations. Iranian ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost also visited the FO to convey his government’s concerns.
Meanwhile, the IRGC through a statement asked the Pakistan government to take immediate measures to trace the Iranian guards and “put up a serious fight against bandits and terrorists who have nested along Pakistan’s borders and are supported and used by certain reactionary countries of the region”.
IRGC Commander Mohammad Pakpour proposed a joint military operation with Pakistan against the militants holding the hostages.
“Terrorists have bases inside Pakistan and we are ready for joint (military) operation with the Pakistani army against hooligans to free up hostages,” Pakpour said.
Pakistan and Iran share over 900km-long border, which is infested with criminal gangs, militants, and drug traffickers.
Some of the groups have in the past carried out cross-border attacks killing Iranian border security forces. Therefore, border security has for long remained a major irritant in bilateral ties.
The two neighbours have lately cooperated extensively for improving border security by undertaking several measures, including the deployment of additional troops.
Last month militants hit a military parade in Iran’s city of Ahvaz, killing 24 people and wounding over 60. Iran blamed Saudi Arabia and the UAE for that attack.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran Riffat Masood could not present her credentials to President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday.
According to one source, she was informed just ahead of the presentation that she would require fresh credentials signed by the new president in Pakistan Arif Alvi as those signed by his predecessor were no more acceptable.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2018