Iran and Pakistan agree to return ambassadors; de-escalating tensions

Pakistan and Iran swiftly de-escalate tensions through diplomatic efforts, agreeing to return ambassadors by January 26.

Amid escalating tensions between Pakistan and Iran, both nations have taken swift diplomatic steps towards de-escalation of tension between the countries. Following a telephone conversation between the foreign ministers of the two countries, it has been mutually agreed that the ambassadors will return to their respective posts by January 26, 2024, according to statements from both the Pakistani and Iranian foreign ministries.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, has played a very important role in this diplomatic turnaround, demonstrating “visionary engagement” in managing what has been termed one of the fastest de-escalations in diplomatic history by Information Minister Murtaza Solangi.

The recent tension began when Iran launched airstrikes targeting alleged bases of the militant group Jaish al-Adl in the border town of Panjgur in Balochistan, leading to condemnation from Islamabad and a downgrade in diplomatic ties. In response, Pakistan conducted an intelligence-based operation, striking hideouts of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province, codenamed ‘Marg Bar Sarmachar.’

Nine individuals were reported killed in the Pakistani operation, leading to Iran summoning Pakistan’s charge d’affaires to protest and seek an explanation. This sequence of events prompted a high-level meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee, which emphasized the need to address mutual security concerns through dialogue and diplomacy while reaffirming the commitment to regional peace.

Following the NSC meeting, both countries expressed their commitment to reducing geopolitical tensions. Iran, in a statement, reiterated its adherence to collaboration between the two nations. The subsequent phone conversation between the foreign ministers emphasized collaboration at the operational level, particularly in counter-terrorism efforts.

The move towards diplomatic normalization includes the reappointment of ambassadors to their respective capitals. Foreign Minister Qureshi has invited his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, to visit Islamabad. During the conversation, Amirabdollahian stressed the importance of pursuing assurances regarding security and military cooperation seriously.

The diplomatic strides made in a short span demonstrate a commitment to regional stability and a willingness to address concerns through dialogue. The reappointment of ambassadors signals a positive shift towards restoring diplomatic ties between Pakistan and Iran, averting a potential crisis in the region.