TEHRAN: Even as Iran issued a warning on Wednesday over its missing border guards, Pakistan condemned the alleged murder of one of the guards and extended all possible support in tracking the whereabouts of the remaining soldiers, but insisted that they were not within Pakistani territory.
A statement from the foreign office spokesperson on Wednesday read that Pakistan was “deeply saddened” over the reported killing of one of the five Iranian border guards, abducted in the Sistan-Balochistan province of Iran last month.
“We condemn this terrorist act, and share the grief and agony of the families of the martyr and the other border guards.”
The spokesperson added that Islamabad has extended all possible support to Tehran in tracking the whereabouts of the missing Iranian border guards and that during the last meeting of the joint border commission in Quetta on February 19-20, 2014, a border coordination committee was also established to assist with the effort.
“The government of Pakistan stands ready to act on any credible and actionable intelligence made available to it. However, our investigations have neither corroborated nor established the entry into or presence within Pakistani territory of the Iranian border guards.”
The spokesperson added that Pakistan deeply values its brotherly relations with Iran.
Rouhani calls Nawaz
President Hassan Rouhani in a telephone call to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif demanded "serious and swift action" by Pakistan to secure the release of the soldiers.
"We expect to hear good news in this regard," he said, while calling for "joint action by both countries against terrorists," the official IRNA news agency reported.
For his part, Nawaz said the issue was of "utmost importance" to his government and that he was "prepared to boost action to free the soldiers".
Iran issues warning to Pakistan
Iran on Wednesday issued a warning to Islamabad after reports emerged that an Iranian soldier abducted and taken across the border into Pakistan by extremists had been executed.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed "grave concern" about the fate of Jamshid Danayifar, who was kidnapped along with four other border guards on February 6 by rebel group Jaishul Adl.
"We did all we could to secure their release," Zarif told state television after a cabinet meeting.
"But it is disappointing that the Pakistani government has failed to secure its borders, and allows terrorists to operate on its soil."
Zarif's remarks came after his ministry summoned Pakistani ambassador Nour Mohammad Jadmani, demanding "swift and serious action" to secure the release of the soldiers, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli meanwhile warned - without elaborating - that Iran "reserves the right to utilise all its ability in its border areas."
Jaishul Adl said on its website on Sunday that Danayifar had been killed, warning of further executions should Tehran refuse to "release prisoners.”
Iran's Interior Ministry says it is awaiting Islamabad's official position amid media reports that local Pakistani authorities have confirmed the group's claim.
The rebel group, which took up arms in 2012 to fight for what it says are the rights of Iran's minority Sunni population, is active in the restive Sistan-Balochistan province that borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In November it claimed responsibility for killing a local prosecutor, a month after its rebels killed 14 Iranian border guards in an ambush.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned in a Tuesday statement the reported killing as an "appalling act" and urged that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
A spokesperson for the US State Department, Alan Eyre, called for the "swift release" of the abducted soldiers while expressing hope the reported execution - that came as Iran was celebrating its Persian New Year - was not true.
Shortly after the abduction, Iranians launched a campaign on Twitter, despite the micro-blogging service being banned in Iran.
Demanding the soldiers' release, the FreeIranianSoldiers hashtag went viral in February.
Some Iranians have used social media to hit out at the Tehran government for its inability to bring home the young soldiers, who were serving their 24-month mandatory military service.
Border guards chief Hossein Zolfaghari has admitted that there was "negligence" in the lead-up to the kidnapping, saying those responsible were suspended, with some facing prosecution.
But it is disappointing that the Pakistani government has failed to secure its borders, and allows terrorists to operate on its soil.
UN secy-gen deplores killing, wants killers found
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday condemned the killing of one of the five Iranian border guards who were abducted last month by a militant group. He called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
In a statement issued by Ban’s spokesperson, the secretary general sent his condolences to the family of the slain guard.
“He expresses his solidarity with the Government and people of Iran, who are confronted with this appalling act amid the annual Nowruz celebrations held to commemorate in peace the start of a new year,” the spokesperson added.
“He calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. He hopes for the success of the ongoing efforts by the Government of Iran to achieve the release of those who remain captive.”
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