Army chief seeks Iran’s cooperation in dealing with militants

Updated 12 May 2020

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Last Friday, six troops were martyred while on patrol in Buleda. — ISPR/File
Last Friday, six troops were martyred while on patrol in Buleda. — ISPR/File

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday sought Iran’s cooperation in dealing with Baloch militants allegedly operating from its soil.

Gen Bajwa called Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Maj Gen Mohammad Baqeri against the backdrop of last Friday’s attack on a Frontier Corps patrol in the Buleda area of Kech district in which six troops, including Major Nadeem Bhatti, were martyred.

The attack, which took place about 14km from the Pak-Iran border, was claimed by the banned Baloch Libera­tion Army.

The Inter-Services Public Relations did not issue any statement on the conversation.

However, Iranian official newswire Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) rep­orted that the two generals discussed military developments, security of borders and the coronavirus crisis.

Gen Bajwa, IRNA rep­orted, “urged the exchange of expert delegations to maintain border security and prevent terrorist moves on common borders”. He also informed the Iranian commander about the measures being taken by the Pakistan government to prevent unauthorised cross-border movement.

Pakistan and Iran share over 900km-long border, which is infested with criminal gangs, militants and drug traffickers. Terrorist groups operating along the border have in the past carried out several attacks. Therefore, border security has for long remained a major irritant in bilateral ties. The terrorist groups based near the border have existed because of deep mistrust between the two countries.

The two neighbours have, however, over the past few years cooperated extensively in improving border security by undertaking several measures, including deployment of additional troops.

Gen Bajwa had in his maiden visit to Iran in 2017 as the army chief called the Pakistan-Iran border the “border of peace and friendship” and vowed closer cooperation with Tehran to ensure security in the region.

Pakistan and Iran had during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Tehran in April last year agreed to the setting up of a joint rapid reaction force for curbing activities of terrorist groups along the porous border.

Gen Baqeri, while talking to Gen Bajwa, expressed readiness for cooperation against the miscreants and called for enhancement of security measures at the borders so as to prevent the terrorist groups and “common enemies” from creating problems at the borders.

Iran expects Pakistani military officials to take decisive action to secure release of three Iranian border guards, IRNA quoted Gen Baqeri as having told Gen Bajwa.

The Iranian guards are believed to be in the captivity of Jaish al-Adl, an Iranian terrorist group operating in the border region.

Pakistan has since November 2018 helped Iran recover nine of the 12 guards who were abducted in October that year from a border post near Mirjaveh.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2020