Iran launched airstrikes on Pakistani territory, targeting the Balochistan province along the border. The strikes were reportedly aimed at bases of the Sunni militant group, Jaish al-Adl.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry condemned the ‘illegal’ airstrike, citing the death of two children and injuries to three others. The move prompted Pakistan to summon Tehran’s senior diplomat in Islamabad to protest the unprovoked violation of its airspace.
This incident follows Iranian missile strikes in Syria and Iraq, part of a series of reprisals against perceived enemies after a double suicide bombing in Kerman which claimed over 80 lives. While the attack in Kerman was claimed by the Islamic State (IS), it remains unclear whether Tehran believes Jaish al-Adl is also involved or if it’s a broader response to satisfy domestic calls for vengeance.
Baluch nationalists have been engaged in a low-intensity insurgency in Balochistan for over two decades, aiming for independence. Iran suspects Pakistan of harbouring insurgents and fostering instability, potentially in coordination with Saudi Arabia. Despite a Chinese-mediated detente in 2023 between Iran and Saudi Arabia, attacks on the border persisted, leading to the killing of four Pakistani soldiers.
Simultaneously, Red Sea shipping faced disruptions from Houthi rebel attacks in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. This led to the U.S. and allies conducting airstrikes in Yemen, targeting Houthi positions. The Biden administration is reportedly planning to redesignate the Houthis as specially designated global terrorists, reversing their delisting in 2021.
The Gaza war, triggered by a Hamas attack on Israel, has further destabilized the region. Hezbollah, backed by Iran, regularly fires rockets into northern Israel, prompting IDF airstrikes in southern Lebanon. Iran’s foreign minister met Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister at the World Economic Forum in Davos, though the details of their discussion remain unclear.
Recent Iranian missile launches into Syria and Iraq faced criticism from Iraq, terming it a blatant violation of sovereignty and prompting the recall of its ambassador from Tehran. Threats to take the matter to the UN Security Council underscore the broader regional implications of the escalating tensions. As tensions escalate with Iranian airstrikes on Pakistani territory, the broader implications for regional stability and the intricate web of geopolitical relationships come into sharp focus.