ISLAMABAD: The army on Tuesday called on Iran to observe principles of “mutual respect, non-interference, and equality” in relations with Pakistan.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement on Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s conversation with Iranian Chief of Staff of Armed Forces Maj Gen Mohammad Baqeri said the Iranian commander was told that Pakistan desires “for regional peace and stability on basis of mutual respect, non-interference and equality”.
Gen Bajwa had called Gen Baqeri on Monday to seek action against Baloch separatists, who have allegedly taken up refuge on Iranian soil. The call was made against the backdrop of Friday attack on a Frontier Corps patrol in restive Balochistan in which six troops were martyred. The Baloch Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Pakistani security agencies believe that over the past few years Iranian intelligence services have forged ties with Baloch separatists to counter Iranian militants, who are allegedly having sanctuaries in Pakistan. This has widened trust deficit between the two countries, making the ethnic Baloch insurgencies on both sides of the border murkier.
“Both commanders resolved to enhance security measures on either side of the border,” the ISPR said.
Pakistan and Iran have in the past agreed on a number of border mechanisms, which improved the border security situation, but occasionally incidents happen that further strain the relations between the uneasy neighbours.
Pakistan is erecting a border fence along the 909km border with Iran to check the movement of militants, smugglers, and other criminals. Last month, the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet had allocated Rs3 billion for the construction of fence.
Gen Bajwa emphasised mutual cooperation for tackling cross-border terrorism.
“COAS said that Pakistan has started fencing the border but will require mutual bilateral cooperation to ensure border security and stem smuggling activity which is also used by terrorists and narco traffickers for covering their movement,” the ISPR said.
The two generals also discussed Covid-19 and underscored the need for improving border terminals to deal with the pandemic.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said that Tehran, because of its crumbling health system, pushed nearly 5,000 Pakistanis across the border after the start of the epidemic in Iran.
Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2020