Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, arrived in Pakistan to engage in talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Jalil Abbas Jilani, aiming to ease tensions that escalated during the air strikes between the two nations earlier this month. The air strikes, purportedly targeting terrorists in border regions, resulted in casualties and prompted both countries to reassess their diplomatic relations. The increased threat of a larger conflict pushed Tehran and Islamabad to pursue de-escalation and diplomatic rebuilding.
Following their meeting, the ministers emphasized the significance of close relations between Pakistan and Iran for regional stability. They pledged to expand political and security cooperation while expressing mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Amirabdollahian pointed out that the “terrorists” in border areas receive support from third countries, without providing specific details. Western countries have previously accused Iran of supporting groups designated as terrorist organizations. The ministers also agreed to uplift the economic conditions in the affected regions. Additionally, Amirabdollahian announced that Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi plans to visit Pakistan soon.
The recent escalation originated from long-standing concerns about armed groups in the borderlands between Iran and Pakistan. Internal political pressures, coupled with the effects of Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza, contributed to the heightened tensions.
On January 17, Iran conducted a strike in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, targeting an alleged hideout for the anti-Iran armed group Jaish al-Adl. In retaliation, Pakistan launched an air strike on what it claimed were hideouts of armed groups in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province. The attacks, resulting in casualties on both sides, raised fears of a regional escalation linked to the Gaza war. However, a swift joint decision by Iran and Pakistan to de-escalate tensions and resume diplomatic ties defused the situation.
Amid the discussions, the Iranian official also addressed the killing of nine Pakistani labourers by gunmen in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province. The incident, described by Islamabad as “horrifying and despicable,” led to demands for the victims’ bodies to be repatriated.
The diplomatic efforts and commitments by Iran and Pakistan signify a shared interest in maintaining regional stability and addressing common security challenges.