Already embroiled in a rhetorical war with Saudi Arabia as well as its involvement in Syria and Iraq, Iran’s military is threatening intervention in its neighbor Pakistan.
The head of Iran’s ground forces, Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan (pictured), said on Tuesday:
The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran condemn such measures and if the Pakistani government does not take serious measures, [Iranian forces] reserve the absolute and legal right to resolutely counter and destroy the lairs of terrorists however deep inside the neighboring country’s soil.
Pourdastan added that the military would spare no efforts to safeguard the Islamic Republic’s security.
The challenge to Islamabad was spurred by the killing of 11 Iranian border guards in the southeast of the country, near the Pakistan border, on April 26. The incident was the latest attack by Jaish ul-Adl, a Sunni insurgent group based in Sistan and Baluchistan Province.
After their assault, the insurgents pulled back into Pakistan.
The attack exposed the promise of the military that Iran’s borders are protected against security threats, amid the regional confrontations in which Tehran is involved.
It has also further complicated the relationship between Iran’s security forces and the Rouhani Government, which has stressed engagement rather than conflict with other countries. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Islamabad last week to discuss how to “counter terrorist groups”.
On Monday, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli spoke with Pakistani counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, calling for swift measures to improve security along the borders and to prevent infiltration of insurgents, smuggling of narcotics, and entry into Iran by Afghan nationals.
The head of the Iranian military, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, took a harder line, saying that Iran “cannot accept the continuation of this situation”.