A paramilitary soldier was killed and three were critically wounded in ‘unprovoked firing’ by Iranian border guards in an area of Balochistan that shares border with Iran’s Sistan-o-Balouchestan province, the Frontier Corps said in a statement on Friday. Conversely, the Iranian border guards claimed that they have killed ‘several rebels’ in a clash on Pak-Iran border that also left two senior officials dead.
“An FC Subedar embraced martyrdom and three other personnel were wounded in [the Iranian forces’ firing],” a spokesperson for the Frontier Corps said in a statement Friday evening. “The FC personnel were chasing miscreants when they came under attack from Iranian forces. It was a targeted attack on Pakistani forces,” he added. One FC vehicle was also destroyed in the Iranian firing.
The firing in Mand tehsil continued for six hours – but Pakistani forces did not retaliate. “It is a clear violation of our border and international law. It is also against a Pak-Iran border agreement,” the spokesperson said. “The firing started late Thursday night and continued till Friday [morning],” he added.
Meanwhile, the commander of Sistan-o-Balouchestan Border Patrols said on Friday that two provincial border guards – 2nd Brigadier Javad Baqeri and 2nd Lieutenant Reza Barani – were killed in an armed clash with hooligans, Iran’s Fars news agency reported Thursday night. “Several rebels were also killed in the clash.”
Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Roham-Bakhsh Habibi said the Zahedan Border Guards Brigades who had gained information on the movement of the armed hooligans at the Zero Point of Iran-Pakistan border and their intention to enter the Iranian territory reacted promptly to their illegal entry attempt.
“That brigade managed to halt the procession of the armed bandits in a highly skilled operation,” said General Habibi, adding that in the course of the ensuing clash a number of the bandits were killed and one of their vehicles and a noticeable amount of arms and munitions were confiscated.
However, Pakistani security forces said that Iranian border guards intruded deep into Pakistani territory from Zero Point and raided the house of a Pakistani national, who is said to be a relative of a commander of Iran’s Basij force, a paramilitary volunteer militia, in the Lashkar-e-Ahb area of Naukundi in Chagai district.
“The house belongs to Ghuas Baksh Nautezai, who is close relative of Iranian Basij Commander Majeed Nautezai. The things the Iranian border guards had confiscated were sent by Majeed Nautezai to Ghuas Baksh Nautezai,” the paramilitary FC said.
FC Inspector General Maj Gen Ejaz Shahid warned that the Pakistani forces would retaliate against any such incursion in the future. “Pakistani forces will respond to Iranian forces in the future, if they carry out any attack on Pakistani territory,” he added.
The developments came a day after Deputy Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Brigadier General Hossein Salami told reporters in Tehran that “terrorists, wherever they may be, even on the soil of neighbouring countries, we will find them, and if they do not give up acts of terrorism, we will deal with them without reservation.”
Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, however, sought to downplay the warning, saying that Pakistan and Iran have a mechanism such as a border management committee to deal with the threat of terrorism. “We believe that if Iran has evidence that elements from Pakistan are involved in activities against Iran, they should share it with us.”
She pointed out that according to Pakistani authorities the recent violent incidents were perpetrated inside Iranian territory by Iranians and that was corroborated by their own accounts.
“It is not helpful to externalise problems. We need to focus on eliminating terrorism from our countries. We have mechanisms which can investigate such events as was done in the past when the Iranian guards were kidnapped and released inside Iran,” she emphasised. The spokesperson recalled that last time allegations levelled against Pakistan in the kidnapping of Iranian guards were proven wrong.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2014.