Jilani speaks to Iranian counterpart to defuse tensions

Caretaker FM affirms Pakistan's commitment to collaborative security partnership with Iran

News Desk January 19, 2024
Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian (R). PHOTO: FILE

Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani engaged in a crucial diplomatic conversation with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, on Friday, marking a significant turning point in the recent escalation of tensions between Pakistan and Iran.

According to a short statement issued by the foreign office, Jilani expressed Pakistan's commitment to fostering collaboration with Iran, emphasising the importance of mutual trust and cooperation, particularly in the realm of security.

The tensions escalated earlier in the week when Iran launched a missile strike against what it termed as hardline Sunni Muslim militants in Balochistan’s Pangur district bordering Iran. In a retaliatory move, Pakistan conducted air strikes against separatist militants inside Iranian territory, marking the first such incident since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88.

Sources close to the matter revealed that both Islamabad and Tehran were quick to recognise the need to de-escalate tensions, as the possibility of a full-scale conflict loomed large. The Express Tribune earlier reported that Pakistan, following its retaliatory strikes, extended a reconciliation message to Iran, emphasising its lack of interest in further escalating the situation.

Read more: De-escalation imminent as friends engage in hectic diplomacy

Key regional players played a pivotal role in defusing the crisis, with China, Russia, and Turkey actively engaging in diplomatic efforts to prevent further escalation. The Iranian foreign ministry, in a late evening statement on Thursday, reaffirmed its commitment to good neighbourly ties with Pakistan and expressed its resolve not to allow external elements to strain the longstanding relationship.

The statement from Tehran was cautiously interpreted by Pakistani officials as a positive signal, marking the first indication that Iran was open to mending ties with its neighbour. Diplomatic sources revealed that behind-the-scenes efforts by influential regional countries played a crucial role in persuading both Pakistan and Iran to step back from the brink of conflict.

While there remains a sense of cautious optimism among Pakistani officials regarding the de-escalation, concerns linger over the specter of potential conflict. The recent coordinated and precision-guided strikes by Pakistan on terrorist hideouts inside Iranian territory underscore the gravity of the situation.


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