ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif reached here on Tuesday night on an unscheduled trip to follow up on the issue of abducted border guards and discuss “certain regional developments”, according to diplomatic sources.
Mr Zarif, besides holding a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, is expected to call on Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa during his one-day trip.
Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost met FM Qureshi on Tuesday to discuss the hurriedly planned trip of Mr Zarif. Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal tweeted: “Iranian Ambassador in Pakistan called on FM at MoFA today #pakiranbrotherhood.”
A diplomatic source said the efforts for recovery of the abducted guards are on the top of Mr Zarif’s agenda. About 12 Iranian border guards were kidnapped by militants a fortnight ago from a post in Mirjaveh region close to the border with Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Jaish al-Adl, a terrorist group operating in the region, had claimed responsibility for their kidnapping. Iranian leaders believe that the militants transferred the guards to Pakistan after taking them hostage.
Mr Zarif and Mr Qureshi had earlier spoken over the phone regarding the matter immediately after the incident. During the conversation on that occasion, he had requested the Pakistani government to enhance security along the border by increasing troops deployment and other measures.
The Iranian foreign minister had also urged the Pakistani authorities to act swiftly to recover the hostages and arrest the elements behind the terrorist incident in accordance with “the previous understandings” between the two countries.
Similarly Iran’s top military commander Maj Gen Mohammad Hossein Bagheri had also after the incident called Gen Bajwa to urge intensification of efforts for search and rescue of kidnapped Iranian border guards.
Meanwhile, a source said the visiting foreign minister was expected to additionally raise the issue of Israel’s growing contacts with Muslim countries in what is being seen as an attempt to encircle Iran. There have also been rumours of a private Israeli jet visiting Islamabad, which have been strongly denied by the government.
Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2018