ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday blamed elements opposed to Pakistan-Iran ties for the recent abduction of Iranian border guards.

“Such incidents are the handiwork of our common enemies unhappy with the existing close, friendly relations between Pakistan and Iran,” a Foreign Office statement quoted Mr Qureshi as having told his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif during their telephonic conversation.

The Iranian foreign minister had called Mr Qureshi to discuss the situation arising out of kidnapping of 12 guards by militants from a post near the border a day earlier.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, in an earlier statement, had held the agents of “anti-[Islamic] Revolution terrorist groups” and “foreign [spy] agencies” responsible for the incident, which has been claimed by Jaish-al-Adl, a terrorist group operating in the region.

The Iranian foreign minister, in a phone conversation, requested Islamabad to enhance security measures along the border

Pakistan government has already assured the Iranian officials of its full cooperation in tracing the kidnapped guards. The heads of military operations of the two countries have been coordinating the search effort. Air surveillance has been stepped up and troops have been deployed near the border area where the incident took place.

“Reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment of not allowing anyone succeed in such malicious efforts, Mr Qureshi noted that Pakistan and Iran have shared a ‘border of peace and friendship’ which would be maintained in the same spirit,” the FO statement added.

Mr Zarif during the conversation requested the Pakistani government to enhance the security along the border by increasing troops’ deployment and other measures. He also urged the Pakistani authorities to act swiftly for recovering the hostages and arresting the elements behind the terrorist incident in accordance with the previous understandings.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018