Iranian and Pakistani flags are seen in this illustration taken, January 18. — Reuters

Timeline of cross-border hostilities between Pakistan and Iran over the last decade

On Tuesday, Iran had laun­ched attacks in Pakistan targeting what it described as bases for the militant group Jaish al-Adl.
Published January 19, 2024

Less than 48 hours after Iran carried out an air strike on Pakistan, Islamabad responded by hitting targets with the Iranian territory in an operation codenamed ‘Marg Bar Sarmachar’.

On Tuesday, Iran had laun­ched attacks in Pakistan targeting what it described as bases for the militant group Jaish al-Adl in the border town of Panjgur in Balochistan, state media reported, prompting strong condemnation from Islamabad and downgrading of diplomatic ties.

The Iranian strikes were part of a series of attacks carried out by Iran in recent days in Syria and Iraq as a response to recent terrorist attacks on its territory. They have heightened concerns about regional stability, particularly amid ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.

By Thursday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Pakistan had targeted “hideouts used by terrorist organisations namely Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF)” in an intelligence-based operation.

Former foreign secretary of Pakistan, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, wrote in an op-ed for Dawn that the two countries have maintained cordial relations over the decades. “Notably, barring a few irritants, there is no major dispute between the two countries,” he says.

While that is true, making the escalation between the two countries in recent days even more concerning, there have also been instances of hostility along the Pakistan-Iran border. takes a look at such instances that have taken place in the last decade.

February 2014

Five Iranian border guards were abducted by a group of rebels. Speculation arose that they had traversed Pakistani territory, causing a strain in relations between the two nations. Pakistan vehemently denied the accusations, asserting that the guards had never set foot on Pakistani soil.

May 2014

Iranian border guards fatally shot one Pakistani national and injured another near the Pak-Iran border in Balochistan’s Panjgur district. Former Commissioner of Mekran Division, Fateh Bhangar, reported that the Iranian guards opened fire into Pakistani territory.

October 2014

Iranian border guards attacked a vehicle of Frontier Corps inside Pakistani territory killing one FC man and injured three others in Mand Tehsil of Balochistan’s Kech district.

According to the FC spokesperson, 30 Iranian border guards also entered Nokundi, which borders Iran, and took the residents of a nearby village hostage for six hours. “They subjected the residents to physiological torture and then left,” he said.

The Foreign Office lodged a strong protest with Iran after the killing of the security official. The development came hours after Iranian forces fired mortar shells into Pakistani territory.

December 2014

Iranian border guards fired dozens of rockets in Balochistan’s Kech district.

Levies sources told Dawn that Iranian border guards fired 42 rockets in Kech’s Zamuran area, located close to the border. They said the rockets landed at a village in Zamuran and injured seven Pakistani civilians.

July 2015

Iranian border guards fired four mortar shells inside Pakistan near Balochistan’s Soorap area of Panjgur district. However, there was no loss of human life.

April 2017

Ten Iranian border guards were killed in an attack that Tehran claimed was launched by terrorists in Pakistani border’s zero-point. The Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility for the attack.

Iran summoned the Pakistani envoy to lodge a protest over the incident.

May 2017

Pakistan assured Iran it would take steps to prevent cross-border terrorist attacks, including the deployment of additional troops along its border with Iran.

However, the head of the Iranian armed forces warned Islamabad that Tehran would hit bases inside Pakistan if the government did not confront militants who carried out cross-border attacks.

The same month, mortar shells fired by the Iranian border forces landed and exploded in Talap a border village of Pakistan in Chagai district. However, no casualty or damage to property was reported.

June 2017

Pakistan downed an Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in Balochistan’s Panjgur. The Foreign Office said the drone was shot down for being “unmarked”. Moreover, it said there was no intimation about the flight of the UAV near the border.

The incident was the first time an Iranian drone was downed by Pakistan.

April 2018

Three Iranian security personnel were killed by militants on a border post in the city of Mirjaveh in Sistan-o-Baluchistan province. Of the three casualties, two died when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) while one was killed in an ambush, the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said.

The same month, Iranian border guards shot dead two Pakistanis and detained five others when they illegally crossed into their country.

October 2018

Twelve Iranian security personnel including intelligence officers from Iran’s top security force — the Revolutionary Guard — were kidnapped by militants from a post in Mirjaveh region close to the border with Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

According to Iranian media, Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

A month later, Pakistani forces recovered five of the dozen Iranian guards from Lulakdan area near the border, while another four were recovered on March 21, 2019.

December 2018

A suicide car bomb attack targeting the police headquarters in Chabahar, a southern port city of Iran, claimed the lives of four policemen, with 42 other individuals sustaining injuries, Iranian media reported.

Javad Zarif, the then foreign minister of Iran, attributed the incident to “foreign-backed terrorists,” a statement widely perceived as an implicit accusation against Pakistan.

The foreign ministry in Islamabad condemned the attack.

February 2021

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said that it conducted an intelligence operation inside Pakistan’s territory and freed two of the security personnel kidnapped in 2018.

September 2021

Pakistan said that a soldier was martyred in cross-border firing from inside Iranian territory targeting a Frontier Corps border post.

According to the military’s media affairs wing, Sepoy Maqbool Shah of Frontier Corps embraced martyrdom, and another soldier was injured.

January 2023

The Pakistan Army said militants used Iranian soil to “target a convoy of its security forces patrolling along the border” in Balochistan’s Panjgur district.

The army described the attack as “terrorist activity”, saying that four of its security personnel were martyred as a result, and added that Iran was asked to hunt down the terrorists on their side,

April 2023

Four Pakistani soldiers were martyred in a terrorist attack along the Pak-Iran border in the Jalgai sector of Balochistan’s Kech district, while they were on a routine border patrol.

June 2023

Two Pakistani soldiers were martyred in an armed attack at a security checkpoint close to the border with Iran in Kech district. The attack took place in the Singwan area at the Pak-Iran border.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), terrorists, armed with heavy weapons, opened fire at the checkpoint.

December 2023

Eleven Iranian police officers were killed in an attack by Jaish al-Adl on a police station in Rask, a town in southeastern province of Siestan-o-Baluchistan.

The attack was condemned by Pakistan followed by a reaffirmation to Iran that the country would help them fight terrorism.

January 2024

Iran violated Pakistan’s airspace and carried out missile attacks within the country’s borders, targeting alleged bases of Jaish al-Adl in the border town of Panjgur in Balochistan. According to the Foreign Office, the attack led to the death of two children and injured three girls.

In less than 48 hours, Pakistan responded by launching an attack into Iran’s Sistan-o-Baluchistan province. According to a statement from the Foreign Office spokesperson, “Pakistan’s armed forces executed meticulously planned and coordinated strikes against terrorist strongholds in Iran’s Sistan-o-Baluchistan province.”

Later, officials from both countries engaged in conciliatory overtures, signalling a mutual interest in de-escalating and containing the heightened tensions.