Border Incidents Escalate Again: Iran Kills Pakistani Soldier

Back on Thursday, I noted that Iran claimed the right to enter Pakistani territory to chase terrorists that it blames for a series of border incidents that have killed a number of Iranian border guards. Iran wasted no time following up on that threat, as on Thursday night Iranian shelling killed one Pakistani soldier. Iran followed that up with border guards entering Pakistani territory on Friday to interrogate a number of villagers. It appears that Iran confiscated a vehicle and other items during the incursion. Diplomatic posturing ensued.

Interestingly, Pakistan claims that the Frontier Corpsman who was killed by Iran was in the process of chasing “miscreants” when the soldiers came under fire:

“The FC personnel were chasing miscreants when they came under attack by Iranian forces. It was a targeted attack on Pakistani forces,” the spokesperson added. One FC vehicle was completely destroyed due to intense firing by Iranian forces.
Iranian border guards continued firing for six hours. However, Pakistani forces did not retaliate to the offensive of the neighbouring country.

The big question is whether Iran feels that Pakistan’s Frontiers Corps is aiding the groups that cross into Iran or whether the Pakistani forces came under fire in this case through a mistake when they were chasing the same “miscreants” Iran presumably wished to target.

There was a small amount of additional cross-border shelling on Saturday that appeared to have no effect.

For their part, Iran does not seem to have addressed the events Thursday night through Saturday, although they did put out a statement today praising their strong security in the border region and comparing the terrorist attacks to “mosquito bites”. Iran blamed trans-regional enemies (the Americans and Zionists) as well as unnamed regional enemies for the attacks.

In an analysis of the flare-ups in Dawn, we see mention of the Jaish al-Adl group, Iranian concerns about development of the port at Gwadar and the tension caused by the border putting an artificial barrier through the heart of the regional home of the Baloch people.

But returning to the point above, it is hard to reconcile the statement from Pakistan that the Frontier Corpsmen who came under fire by Iran while chasing “miscreants” were intentionally targeted. While Iran sees Sunni extremists at the heart of their cross-border attack problems, there would seem to be significant overlap between those groups and the Baloch militants that the Frontiers Corps has long been subject to criticism for human rights abuses while trying to quash said militancy.

If Pakistan is indeed serving as a “regional enemy” of Iran in this case and supporting or providing refuge to some of the groups involved in the attacks on Iranian border posts, then Iran would seem to be justified in attacking the FC personnel. The fact that the FC did not return fire would seem to fit that scenario and serve as a tacit admission that they had been caught doing wrong.  However, if the FC were chasing a group that intended a cross-border attack, then Iran would be the ones responsible for needless escalation.


9 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    Now that the US is getting booted out of another country, Afghanistan this time, we are seeing a regional political realignment. Perhaps it will go back to the old days: Iran, India, Russia, Northern Alliance vs. Pakistan, Taliban, with US (CIA) causing general instability, as usual.
    One development is in Chabahar port in Iran. The port of Chabahar in southeast Iran is central to India’s efforts to circumvent Pakistan and open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan where it has developed close security ties and economic interests.

    • bloopie2 says:

      “Perhaps it will go back to the old days.”
      I’ve been wondering what the Middle East would be like today, had the Great Powers not divvied it up 100 years ago. Would there be tribes, or countries, or borders, or governments? Would oil still have been discovered? Would a few folks still get rich off the oil while leaving the rest behind? Would there still be multiple wars and slaughters, all fueled by oil money and centuries of sectarian hatred? Anyone know?

      • P J Evans says:

        I was thinking that it might be something like C. J. Cherryh’s atevi, who don’t even have the concept of borders. (They have associations, where your association with others is weaker or stronger depending on a lot of factors, including history.)

  2. Don Bacon says:

    “But returning to the point above, it is hard to reconcile the statement from Pakistan that the Frontier Corpsmen who came under fire by Iran while chasing “miscreants” were intentionally targeted. ”
    America’s current partnership with the Frontier Corps dates back to the summer of 2008, when U.S. special forces began frequent cross-border raids into the FATA. The CIA has been involved with FC since, sharing intel, as an alternative to working with ISI, particluarly in Balochistan which some in the US want see break away from Pakistan and Iran.
    two years ago–
    In an extraordinary institutional confrontation, Pakistan’s Supreme Court says the country’s paramilitary forces should stop human rights abuses in the country’s largest province of Balochistan or face prosecution.

  3. ArizonaBumblebeeper says:

    What we are witnessing along the border between Pakistan and Iran is the reemergence of several historical conflicts that have periodically ravaged the region over the centuries. These conflicts have cultural, ethnic, and religious roots. Like the Kurds, the Balochis are a group that never achieved a state of their own. Balochistan is also the home of a sect of Islam most people in the West have never heard: the Zikris. Against this background, Balochis have resumed their quest for their own state by mounting an insurgency against the Iranian and Pakistan governments, which is the proximate cause of the conflicts observed at the Iranian/Pakistan border. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has been relentlessly funding and promoting Salafist/Wahhabist groups that consider any sect of Islam other than their own as heretical. These Saudi-sponsored groups engage in terrrorist attacks against the Shia and the Ahmadi (another Islamic-based minority) throughout Pakistan on a regular basis. Their operatives have also attacked Sufi shrines in that country. More specifically, they have attacked the Zikris in Balochistan as heretics. (If you think this stew is a potential breeding ground for a group like ISIS, you’re right.)

    Meanwhile, the United States blithely tries to ignore all of this in its interactions in the region. Take Syria as an example. The reason Assad has a base of support in his country despite his sometimes tyrannical behavior is because of the fear the Alawites, Druze, and Christians fear from a Sunni-ruled Syria. The Middle East is a mosaic of various tribes, ethnicities, and religious sects, many of which have survived against great odds for over a thousand years. Against this background, the Americans must appear to many people in the region as conquistadors from another planet or as poseurs who are covertly engaging in a new crusade against the faithful.

    • Don Bacon says:

      the United States blithely tries to ignore all of this in its interactions in the region
      No, as I said in my #3 the US administration is involved in Balochistan, and also the Congress, particularly Congressman Dana Rohrabacher the Hero of Balochistan.

      • ArizonaBumblebeeperb says:

        I stand by what I said, which related to America’s broader interaction with various groups in the region – not just Balochistan. A perfect example of this was the unwitting American role in the destruction of the Mandaean community of southern Iraq. These followers of John the Baptist since biblical times are no longer a viable community in the aftermath of America’s two wars in Iraq. America’s elites spend most of their time trying to appease the Saudis and Israelis in formulating their agenda for the region without giving adequate consideration to the concerns of Christians or other non-Sunni Islamic sects. If they want success in the region, they had better start listening to the concerns of some of these other players, Unfortunately, I don’t see sufficient evidence of that although I am encouraged that the Americans have finally woken up to the disaster that would follow a rout of the Kurds in Kobani and finally have agreed to resupply the defenders in the city – even if it doesn’t make the Turks happy.

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