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Pakistan says it respects sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran, no interest in escalating situation

The military operation that Pakistan dubbed "Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar" killed at least seven people including three women and four children in iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province. However, Iranian media claimed at least nine people were killed in the airstrike.

Ajeet Kumar Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Islamabad Published on: January 18, 2024 16:05 IST
Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar in Davos
Image Source : AP Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar in Davos

Islamabad: Nearly two days after Iran carried out a missile and drone attack inside Pakistani territory targetting the militant's hideouts, a similar statement has been released by Islamabad for carrying out a retaliatory military operation. The military operation that Pakistan dubbed "Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar" killed at least seven people including three women and four children in the Sistan-Baluchestan province. However, Iranian news agency, IRNA, reported that the missile and drone hit a village in the city of Saravan, killing at least nine people. Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi claimed all the dead “were foreign nationals”.

According to a statement issued by the military’s media affairs wing, “hideouts used by terrorist organisations namely Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF)” were struck in an intelligence-based operation.

Here is the full statement released by Pakistan's foreign ministry:

"This morning, Pakistan undertook a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in the Siestan-o-Baluchistan province of Iran. A number of terrorists were killed during the Intelligence-based operation – codenamed ‘Marg Bar Sarmachar'. Over the last several years, in our engagements 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. Pakistan also shared multiple dossiers with concrete evidence of the presence and activities of these terrorists. However, because of a lack of action on our serious concerns, these so-called Sarmachars continued to spill the blood of innocent Pakistanis with impunity."

"This morning’s action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large-scale terrorist activities by these so-called Sarmachars. This action is a manifestation of Pakistan’s unflinching resolve to protect and defend its national security against all threats. The successful execution of this highly complex operation is also a testimony to the professionalism of the Pakistan Armed Forces. Pakistan will continue to take all necessary steps to preserve the safety and security of its people which is sacrosanct, inviolable and sacred.

"Pakistan respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran"

Pakistan fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The sole objective of today’s act was in pursuit of Pakistan’s own security and national interest which is paramount and cannot be compromised. As a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan upholds the principles and purposes of the UN Charter including territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states. Guided by these principles, and in the exercise of our legitimate rights within international law, Pakistan will never allow its sovereignty and territorial integrity to be challenged, under any pretext or circumstances."

Iran is a brotherly country and the people of Pakistan have great respect and affection for the Iranian people. We have always emphasized dialogue and cooperation in confronting common challenges including the menace of terrorism and will continue to endeavour to find joint solutions.

The statement was similar to what Iran described the attack on Tuesday. 

Story so far: Iran attacks Pakistan

The statement from Tehran came a day after Iran launched massive attacks targeting what it described as bases inside Pakistan for the militant group Jaish al-Adl--a Sunni militant group which largely operates across the border in nuclear-armed Pakistan. According to the Pakistani government, the missile infiltrated their airspace and killed at least two children. Notably, Tehran's staunch action on the Panjgur region coincided with a meeting between the Iranian Foreign Minister and caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar on the sideline of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

According to al-Arabiya News, the militant group was formed in 2012 and is designated as a “terrorist” organization by Tehran. It has a history of launching multiple attacks on Iranian security forces over the years. According to Iranian media, a police station in Sistan-Baluchistan was attacked wherein at least 11 policemen were killed. Later, the group claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Breach of Pakistani airspace"

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry, during a press conference, called Tehran's action an "unprovoked and blatant" breach of Pakistan's sovereignty. It termed the move as a violation of international law and the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. "This illegal act is completely unacceptable and has no justification whatsoever. Pakistan reserves the right to respond to this illegal act," said the foreign ministry.

Later today, Islamabad recalled its ambassador from Iran and the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan who is visiting Iran will not be allowed to come back. "Pakistan has decided to recall its ambassador from Iran and that the Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan who is currently visiting Iran may not return for the time being," Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said while addressing a press briefing in Islamabad.

What Iran says about its attack

While speaking in Davos, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, claimed that no Pakistani citizens had been targeted. He said that the target was limited to members of Jaish al-Adl. "We only targeted Iranian terrorists on the soil of Pakistan," BBC quoted the Iranian minister as saying. According to Abdollahian, he had spoken to his Pakistani counterpart and "assured him that we do respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan and Iraq." 

Also Read: India's first response over Iran's airstrikes in Pakistan: 'We understand actions taken in self-defence'

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