Pakistan on Thursday carried out strikes against “terrorist hideouts” in Iran, a day after warning Tehran of “serious consequences” over its attack on the Balochi group Jaish al-Adl’s headquarters in its territory.
“A number of terrorists” were killed during the intelligence-based operation codenamed “Marg Bar Sarmachar”, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said. Iranian media, however, reported that seven people including four children were killed in the attack.
The retaliatory strikes came days after Iran attacked “terrorist targets” in Pakistan, an attack that Islamabad claimed killed two children.
“This morning Pakistan undertook a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in Siestan-o-Baluchistan province of Iran,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in an official statement.
Calling Iran a “brotherly country”, Islamabad said that the action was a “manifestation of Pakistan’s unflinching resolve” to protect and defend its national security against all threats.
“The sole objective of today’s act was in pursuit of Pakistan’s own security and national interest which is paramount and cannot be compromised,” the Ministry said, adding that Islamabad “fully respects” the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran.
“Over the last several years, in our engagements with Iran, Pakistan has consistently shared its serious concerns about the safe havens and sanctuaries enjoyed by Pakistani origin terrorists calling themselves ‘Sarmachars’ on the ungoverned spaces inside Iran,” the statement read further.
🔊: PR NO. 1️⃣7️⃣/2️⃣0️⃣2️⃣4️⃣
Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar
— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) January 18, 2024
Pakistan also said that it shared multiple dossiers with concrete evidence of the presence and activities of these terrorists.
“However, because of lack of action on our serious concerns, these so-called Sarmachars continued to spill the blood of innocent Pakistanis with impunity. This morning’s action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large scale terrorist activities by these so called Sarmachars,” it added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iran targeted two bases of Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan’s Balochistan province with missiles and drones.
Condemning Iran’s “violation of its airspace”, Pakistan warned the neighbouring country that such actions can have “serious consequences”.
“Last night’s unprovoked and blatant breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty by Iran is a violation of international law and the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. This illegal act is completely unacceptable and has no justification whatsoever,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.
Pakistan reserves the right to respond to this “illegal act” and the responsibility for the consequences will lie “squarely” with Iran, the Ministry said.
“We have conveyed this message to the Iranian Government. We have also informed them that Pakistan has decided to recall its ambassador from Iran and that the Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan who is currently visiting Iran may not return for the time being. We have also decided to suspend all high level visits which were ongoing or were planned between Pakistan and Iran in coming days,” the spokesperson added.
Jaish al-Adl, which is blacklisted by Iran as a terrorist group, was formed in 2012 and has carried out several attacks on Iranian soil in recent years.
Iran carrying out a strike on Pakistan territory and Islamabad’s retaliation come amid the Hamas-Israel conflict in the Middle East and rising attacks on vessels in the Red Sea.