Photo: IRNA

Islamabad Launches Retaliatory Airstrike in Response to Tehran Attack

Pakistan launched “highly coordinated” airstrikes against “terrorist hideouts” in Iran, a day after warning Tehran of “serious consequences” over its attack in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, the attack was carried out on Thursday morning, January 18, described as an “intelligence-based operation,” killing a “number of terrorists” in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province.

The ministry stated that this action is a manifestation of Pakistan’s unflinching resolve to protect and defend its national security against all threats. “Pakistan will continue to take all necessary steps to preserve the safety and security of its people which is sacrosanct, inviolable and sacred.”

“Over the last several years, in our engagement with Iran, Pakistan has consistently shared its serious concerns about the safe havens and sanctuaries enjoyed by Pakistani origin terrorists calling themselves ‘Sarmachars’ on the ungoverned spaces inside Iran,” the ministry stated. “However, because of lack of action on our serious concerns, these so-called Sarmachars continued to spill the blood of innocent Pakistanis with impunity,” it added.

Confirming the attack, Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, reported that at least nine non-Iranians, including three women and four children, lost their lives in Pakistan’s missile strike on the southeastern Iranian city. According to IRNA, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran has condemned the attack and summoned Pakistan’s charge d’affaires in Tehran to seek an explanation for the incident.

Pakistan’s response came a day after Iran launched strikes against Jaish al-Adl, a Sunni separatist group based in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, bordering Iran. Pakistan has said the attack killed two “innocent children” and injured three others. The country called the attack an “unprovoked violation of its airspace” and warned Iran of “serious consequences.” Furthermore, Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic ties by recalling its ambassador from Tehran and asking the Iranian ambassador not to return to Islamabad for the time being.

According to Iranian media reports, on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made a phone call to his Pakistani counterpart, Jalil Abbas Jilani, in an apparent move to ease tension between the neighbors even as Islamabad insisted it had the right to respond to the “illegal act” by Tehran.

Amid escalating tensions between the two neighboring countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan said that the country’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, who is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, and caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, who is visiting Uganda, will cut their trips short and return home.

Pakistan has become the second neighboring country of Iran to respond to an attack by the Islamic Republic on its territory. Earlier on Tuesday, Iraq had criticized a deadly Iranian missile strike on an alleged Israeli spy base in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region in Iraq.

Iraq condemned the incident as an “attack on its sovereignty” which it described as “Iranian Aggression”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iraq recalled its ambassador from Tehran for consultation. It also summoned Iran’s envoy in Iraq in protest at the attack, noting that the missile strikes had “claimed civilian lives”. On Tuesday, the country took further steps by filing a complaint against Iran at the United Nations Security Council, emphasizing that Iran’s actions go against international law and pose a threat to the security of the region.

Several countries have reacted to the recent developments between Pakistan and Iran, with the majority urging a preference for dialogue rather than letting the situation worsen.

The United States has condemned the Iranian strikes in Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria. “So we do condemn those strikes. We have seen Iran violate the sovereign borders of three of its neighbors in just the past couple of days,” Matthew Miller, US State Department spokesman, said.

Russia’s foreign ministry called on Iran and Pakistan to show maximum restraint and solve their differences through diplomacy or risk playing into the hands of those who would like to see the region descend into chaos. “It is regrettable that this is happening between friendly SCO countries, with which we are developing partnership relations. Further aggravation of the situation plays into the hands of those who are not interested in peace, stability, and security in the region,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

China called for “calm and restraint”, and offered to mediate between the two countries. “The Chinese side sincerely hopes that the two sides can exercise calm and restraint and avoid an escalation of tension,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said, adding: “We are also willing to play a constructive role in de-escalating the situation if both sides so wish. “

The Taliban, the ruling regime in Afghanistan, considered the situation alarming and called on both countries to “exercise restraint.” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the spokesman for the Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a post on X, “Both sides should direct efforts towards further strengthening regional stability and resolving disputes through diplomatic channels and dialogue.”