LATEST: Rafsanjani Extends Challenge to Hardliners

Iran’s officials lined up on Tuesday to criticize Pakistan over the killing of a kidnapped Iranian border guard by Sunni insurgents last week.

The Baluch insurgency Jaish ul-Adl, which has carried out a series of attacks on Iranian forces since last summer, seized five border guards in Sistan Baluchestan Province in southeastern Iran on February 6. They took the men across the border into Pakistan, demanding the freeing of 300 detainees from Iranian prisons in return for them.

Last weekend the group announced that it had hung one of the guards and would kill another in 10 days.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said Islamabad must be accountable, “Iran calls for serious and swift measures by the Pakistani government towards the arrest and extradition of terrorists and to guarantee the health and return of the border guards.”

Pakistan has denied Tehran’s claims that it has pursued talks for the release of the guards, but Afkham declared:

Iranian officials have repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction with and concern about acts of terror in border regions and the Islamic Republic of Iran has stressed the need for necessary measures by Pakistan to prevent terrorists from crossing and using Pakistani territory.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Parliament’s National Security Committee, asserted, “According to international law and neighborly conduct, the Pakistani government is responsible for protecting the lives of the kidnapped Iranian border guards.”

Committee member Seyed Baqer Hosseini declared, “Experience has shown that our country has sustained much damage from Pakistan.” He said that, if Pakistan did not cooperate, “Tehran will directly enter the scene to free (the men).”

There is no sign of a resolution to avoid another execution. A judiciary official in Sistan Baluchestan Province denied that Jeish al-Adl had put any demands for release of the four remaining guards.

Rafsanjani Extends Challenge to Hardliners

Following speeches in which he implicitly said the 2009 Presidential election was fraudulent, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has made further moves against hardliners, including those challenging President Rouhani.

Rafsanjani posted a three-line Nowruz message using a poem from Hafez to declare, “I am trying to do something that would remove the sadness and sorrow.”

The former President then explained in an interview why he was disqualified from standing in the 2013 Presidential election, criticizing the Guardian Council and its head, Ayatollah Jannati — and indirectly chiding the Supreme Leader.

Rafsanjani’s new memoir, “Sazandegi va Shokoufaee” (Construction and Efflorescence) will soon be published. The book focus on 1991, when Rafsanjani was in his first Presidential term, as the Guardian Council introduced a new legal interpretation that marked the beginning of efforts to remove reformists from both the Assembly of Experts and Parliament.

Supreme Leader Commemorates Iran-Iraq War

The Supreme Leader has declared that the Iranian people can defeat its enemies through unity, faith and resistance.

Ayatollah Khamenei announced, “The biggest lesson of the Sacred Defense [the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88] was that it showed that a nation can overcome all hardly negotiable passes through unity, faith, trust in God Almighty and belief in the veracity of divine promises, and that it can, through resistance, force the enemy to retreat and be defeated.”

President’s Special Adviser: Citizen Rights Charter “Very Weak”

Special Adviser to the President on Ethnic and Religious Minority Affairs Ali Yunesi has criticized the draft of the Citizen Rights Charter for not going far enough on certain issues, calling it “very weak.”

Yunesi’s comments follow recent criticism of the Charter by hardline critics of the government, including Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, the leader of the hardline opposition Endurance Front.

Yunesi also announced that he will establish the Sunni Consultative Council and advocated for more Sunni rights in the country.

(Hat tip: Iran Tracker)