Photo Credit: Beluchistan
Baloch youths, February 8, 2008.

On Thursday morning, the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan declared the initiation of an “intelligence-driven operation” targeting the hideouts of armed groups in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan province. This announcement came some 24 hours following Iranian air strikes in Balochistan, Pakistan.


The Balochistan region is split among Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, with the largest part of the region governed by Pakistan. The Balochistan region has experienced many insurgencies by separatist militants demanding independence for “Greater Balochistan.”

The Baloch are a nomadic ethnic group that historically regarded itself superior to the farmers in their area, and to survive their life of constant confrontations with the established and more powerful farming communities, the Baloch were forced to organize in tribal confederacies led by local chiefs. The Baloch converted to Suni Islam after the Arab conquest of Balochistan in the seventh century, but these tribes’ national identity was galvanized in their fights against the British insurgents in the region, starting in the 1840s.

In Pakistan, insurgencies by Baloch separatist militants were fought in 1948, 1958–59, 1962–63, and 1973–1977, which, in 2003, became an ongoing, low-intensity insurgency. The Pakistani state security forces have been committing grave violations of human rights against its Baloch minority, including extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture. These actions are purportedly perpetrated by state security forces and their associates. Nevertheless, in 2019, the United States declared the separatist group Baloch Liberation Army fighting the government of Pakistan a global terrorist group.

In Iran, Baloch separatists have been repressed with similar cruelty by the Ayatollahs’ regime, which has been growing since around 2012, as the majority-Sunni Baloch have begun to promote an anti-Shia ideology in their fight against the Shia-Islamic Republic. Baloch Separatists are fighting in Iran for ethnic independence in Sistan and Baluchestan Province.

Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Wednesday admitted carrying out a missile and drone attack on the Baloch in western Pakistan last Tuesday in which two children were killed and three others injured. Amirabdollahian claimed the Iranian operation targeted the group Jaish al-Adli in Pakistan. He described the group as an “Iranian terrorist group.”

Pakistan on Thursday issued a statement saying, “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 Sarmachars. This action is a manifestation of Pakistan’s unflinching resolve to protect and defend its national security against all threats.”

In a Tuesday meeting with the caretaker prime minister of Pakistan Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on the sidelines of the Davos Summit in Switzerland, FM Amirabdollahian highlighted the significance of the fight against terrorism in the course of cooperation between Iran and Pakistan, according to Tasnim. He also emphasized the necessity of pursuing efforts to carry out the previous agreements between the two neighbors on countering terrorism.

For his part, the Pakistani interim PM said Pakistan is eager to promote cooperation with Iran.

Speaking with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Amirabdollahian stressed that no Pakistani citizen had been targeted in the raid against the Iranian Jaish al-Adl terrorist group that had taken shelter in Pakistan.


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