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Pakistan and Iran agree to de-escalation after exchange of strikes

Photo: Anjum Naveed Associated Press After a telephone conversation between Pakistani Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Pakistani diplomacy announced that they had “agreed to de-escalate the situation”. Police officers are seen here checking a car on Thursday outside the main gate of Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.

France Media Agency to Islamabad

1:45 p.m.

  • Middle East

Pakistan and Iran announced on Friday that they had agreed to a “de-escalation” of tensions, after an exchange of deadly strikes this week between the two countries.

The reciprocal bombings, which took place in the Baluchistan region which the two countries share and whose border is very porous, have further accentuated regional tensions, at a time when the Middle East is shaken by the war between the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip.

Pakistani authorities convened a security council on Friday including the heads of the army and military intelligence, after responding Thursday morning — in turn targeting “terrorist hideouts” in Iran — to an Iranian missile attack Tuesday evening and to the drone targeting a “terrorist” group in Pakistani territory.

These two attacks left a total of 11 dead, mainly women and children, according to the authorities.

Pakistan recalled its ambassador to Tehran and announced that the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan, who was in his country, would be prevented from returning to Islamabad.

The United Nations and the United States called for restraint, while China offered to mediate.

To (re)read

Sudden rise in tensions between Pakistan and Iran

But after a telephone conversation between Pakistani Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Pakistani diplomacy announced in a summary of their conversation that they had “agreed on a de-escalation of the situation.”

“The two foreign ministers agreed that cooperation and coordination on counter-terrorism and other areas of common concern should be strengthened,” Pakistani diplomacy further indicated.

For his part, the Iranian minister stressed in a statement that “cooperation between the two countries to neutralize and destroy terrorist camps in Pakistan is essential”.

Iran and Pakistan — the only Muslim country with nuclear weapons — have for decades faced latent insurgencies along their common border, a thousand kilometers long, and frequently accuse each other of allowing these rebel groups to operate from their respective territories.

Soothed rhetoric

This peaceful rhetoric corresponds to the predictions of experts, who estimated that both camps were seeking appeasement after these strikes.

Pakistani Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar cut short his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, after the strikes.

He is the head of an interim government responsible for preparing for the legislative elections of February 8, in which the army has been accused of interfering.

Both Tehran and Islamabad claimed to have bombed insurgents taking refuge abroad.

But never before have Pakistan and Iran, who until then maintained friendly relations, carried out strikes of such magnitude on their neighbor's territory.

In isolated villages near the bombing zone in Panjgur district (western Pakistan), security forces have set up checkpoints.

“Helicopters flew overhead and went towards the area that Iran bombed, but we didn’t know what happened,” Maulana told AFP Mohammad Sadiq, 42, prayer leader at a small seminary about three miles from where an Iranian missile struck.

Villagers fear that a deterioration in relations between the two countries will lead to the closure of borders with Iran, on which the region is economically dependent.

“If the Iranians close the border, people will starve and there will be more insurgents because young people will join separatist organizations,” said one of them, Haji Mohammad Islam, 55 years.

The Baloch insurgency against the Pakistani authorities is demanding better sharing of mineral resources.

According to human rights organizations, military repression has led to a number of disappearances and extrajudicial executions.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116