Pak-Iran Issues

Since the Islamic revolution of 1979 the Baloch population in Iran has faced significant challenges leading to the rise of Sunni radicalism in sistan-o-Baluchistan, before the revolution, ethnic Baloch individuals from Iran migrated to Balochistan and Karachi engaging in political activities against the Shah of Iran. overtime the diaspora transformed, shifting from a nationalist focus to a more religious orientation which posed a challenge to both Iran and Pakistan in the 1970s.

In response the potential spread of Balouch insurgency to 1.2 million Baloch residing in eastern Iran. fearing the Balocuh incursion in Pakistan from 1973 to 1977, the Shah sent 30 Cobra gunships to Iranian pilots to assist Islamabad, as highlighted by scholars. During the 1970s Baloch politics in Iran and Pakistan leaned towards leftist ideologies. In the middle of a global tension between capitalism and communism, .balouch nationalists aligned themselves with a communist school of thought. progressive Baloch and Pashtun leaders under the banner of the National Awami Party(NAP) briefly governed Balouchistan and the former North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in early 1970 until Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto disbanded the NAP government in February.

During the 1970s the Baloch in Iran were predominantly secular nationalist with communist leanings. However, after General Zia Ul Haq imposed martial law in 1977 a gradual shift occurred with reconciliation between Balouch nationalists and a change in Iranian diaspora orientation from nationalism to Sunni Islam.

In the 1990s, the militant group Sipahh-e-Rasool Allah, led by Iranian Balouch Maula Bux Darakhshan emerged, this group became the first to organize cross-border incursion from Balouchistan’skech district into Iran Sistan- Balochistan. Mauluk found support from anti Shia group from Pakistan, significantly shaping the religious dimension of Baloch resistance against Iran by framing his effort as a ‘Jihad’. Additionally, he set up camp for Sunni jihadists at a kulahu compound in the early 2000s.

Mauluk’s death in 2006 led to his brother, Mullah Omar Irani, assuming the leadership of Sipah-e-Rasool Allah and the compound. motivated by the desire to avenge his brother, executed by Iran Mullah Omer continued his struggle. To strengthen the fight against Iran, Mullah Omar Irani merged Sipah-e-Rasool Allah with Jundullah, led by Abdul Malik Rigi, a young man who had grown under the influence of Mauluk.

JANDULLAH- A CAUSE OF MISTRUST established in 2002 to defend the rights of the Balouch minority in the economically disadvantage southeast region of Iran, Jandullah gained prominence following a failed attack in December 2005 on the motorcade of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in Sistan-o-Balouchistan province. On March 16, 2006, Jandullah militants, disguised as police and military personnel, established a checkpoint between Zehdan and Zabol. They Detained and killed 22 passengers, prompting Iran to raise concerns about Jandullah’s activities with Pakistan officials.

In an attempt to foster trust between the two nations, the Pakistani government on June 14, 2008, handed over Rigi’s brother, Abdul Hamid who had been arrested a few months earlier from Kech district’s Buleda and Turbat areas Abdul Hamid was executed in Zahedan the capitan of Sistan-o-Balochistan on May 24.
Despite the arrest and extradition of Rigi’s brother by Pakistani authorities, Jundullah continued its activities. In October 2009, the group orchestrated a deadly bombing in Pishin near Iran’s border with Pakistan, resulting in the deaths of 43 people, including six commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. For the first time, Iran openly accused Pakistan and the West of supporting Jundullah and Abdul Malik Rigi.
In February 2010, Tehran successfully apprehended Abdul Malik Rigi while he was on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan. Although he was executed in June of that year, Jundallah persisted in its activities under the leadership of al-Hajj Mohammed Dhahir Baluch from February 2010 to 2011. Under Dhahir’s leadership, the group claimed responsibility for the July 2010 bombings that claimed the lives of more than 20 members of the Shia community in a mosque in Iran’s Zahedan, located in Sistan-o-Baluchistan. Similar attacks targeted multiple Shia Muslims in Chabahar in December 2010 and October 2012. Over time, Jundallah experienced a decline in strength. Around the same period, Mullah Omar Irani, based in Turbat, along with like-minded individuals, established Jaish al-Adl in 2012. This development has since become a source of tension between Pakistan and Iran.
Jaish al-Adl, also known as the Army of Justice, emerged in 2012 in the border regions between Pakistan and Iran, with Mullah Omar Irani believed to be among its key founders. The group gained notoriety when a roadside bomb in Saravan killed 13 Revolutionary Guards in October 2013. In response, Iran fired a deadly missile at Kulahu, Mullah Omar Irani’s compound in Kech, one month after the Saravan bombings, causing damage to his house and an adjacent mosque. The cycle of violence persisted, including the kidnapping of four Iranian soldiers in February 2014, allegedly taken into Pakistan, leading to tensions between the two countries. The situation intensified, with accusations exchanged over cross-border infiltration and sheltering of Baloch separatists. Tensions further rose with the competition between Chabahar and Gwadar ports and Iran’s rocket launches into Pakistan’s border towns. Incidents like the shooting down of an Iranian drone in 2017 and the seizure of an Iranian spy drone in 2019 continued to strain relations, prompting diplomatic efforts from Pakistan to de-escalate the situation.

Recently On the evening of January 16, an Iranian air strike targeted Sabz Koh, a remote mountainous area in Balouchistan’s Panjgur district, resulting in the tragic death of two children and injuries to three other civilians among the injured were three daughters and the wife of Karim Dad, a Sabz Koh resident, while Karim 11-month-old son Suleiman and six-year-old daughter Humaira lost their lives in attack. Iran Tasnim News agency reported that the operation aimed at two bases of the anti-Iran militant group Jaish Al Adl. In response, Pakistan security forces conducted precision military strikes against a terrorist hideout in Iran’s Sietan-o-Balouchistan province killing several terrorists in the operation named ‘MARG BAR SARMACHAR’. Pakistan military of Foreign Affairs announced the decision to recall its ambassadors from Iran an unprecedented diplomatic move.

Sabz Koh, the target of the Iranian air strikes, is the hometown of Mullah Hashim the former second in command of Jais Al Adl a successor to the extremist group Jundallah. Known for an attack on Iranian security forces in Siestan-o-Balouchistan, Mullah Hashim was killed by Iranian security forces in Sarawan in 2018. Initially, the residents of Sabz Koh suspected a Pakistani security forces operation due to the noise only later discovering it was an attack by Iran. This small village, predominantly inhabited by migrants from Pakistan, witnessed an unprecedented response from Pakistan, given the context of regional tensions, including recent Iranian strikes in Iraq and Syria. The incident adds to the longstanding history of mistrust and conflict between Pakistan and Iran, exacerbated by the emergence of Jaish al-Adl in 2012.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.