Tehran has assured Islamabad of its support in quelling sectarian violence in Balochistan by sharing intelligence on terrorist groups based or active along the Pakistan-Iran border.
Pakistani officials told The Express Tribune on Tuesday that Iran responded positively to Pakistan’s request for intelligence sharing, following a devastating attack on Shia Hazaras in Quetta.
They added that Interior Minister Rehman Malik sought on Monday Tehran’s help during meetings with his Iranian counterpart, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, during his visit to Iran.
“Tehran will go the extra mile to help Islamabad bring the killers of Hazara Shias to book,” a senior official – who accompanied Malik on the trip – quoted the Iranian home minister as saying.
Both countries also agreed to set up two more check posts on the border to counter terrorists, illegal trespassing and drug smuggling, interior ministry officials said.
Najjar told Malik that a delegation from Iran would visit Islamabad to chalk out fresh ways to combat sectarian violence on both sides of the border, the officials added. The delegation is likely to arrive in Islamabad for the meetings in the first week of March.
Both sides agreed that their intelligence agencies would focus on the problems of the Hazaras in Quetta as well as in Mashad, Iran.
Officials said that Najjar and Malik signed an agreement to enhance security cooperation, and underlined the necessity for a joint campaign against terrorism in the region.
Both leaders discussed the newly proposed Navy base Iran is planning on establishing in the Sea of Oman near Pakistan’s border in Gwadar.
The Iranian president had, during a meeting with Malik, also condemned sectarian violence in Quetta, officials said.
Meanwhile, Ahlul Bayt News Agency quoted Malik as saying that the ongoing situation in Pakistan today is like that of Iran’s in the past. “A couple of years ago, Iran was entangled with terrorist group Jundullah and today Pakistan is engaged with dozens of terrorist group such as Jundullah,” he said.
Meanwhile, regarding the Sunni-Shia conflict, a former Pakistan ambassador said that Tehran has a major role in healing the chronic wounds of both communities.
Iran can spearhead a regional conference of Shia and Sunni scholars with the support of Pakistan, said BA Malik. If Sunni-majority Pakistan and Shia-majority Iran can bridge the gap between the two denominations within Islam, it would reduce tension and turn the resource-rich region into an economic power house, he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2013.
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