A few days ago, while the US and Israel were lobbying in Warsaw trying to convince the Europeans to join them in their harshanti-Iran drive, a bomb blast in Zahedan Left around 27 Revolutionary guards dead. The event was coincidental with another unfortunate event of the same nature in Kashmir. In the aftermaths of the negatively developing situation, the Indian Foreign Minister took a stopover in Tehran and both the nations pointed their fingers at Pakistan. Ironically, Pakistan has been struggling to combat terrorism at home. In return for the sacrifices the country has made in the form of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, the country has suppressed a number of terrorist organisations at home and also managed to complete fencing a major chunk of the Durand Line and mainstreaming Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The defectors from the proscribed terrorist organisations after experiencing a befitting defeat at the hands of Pakistani security forces have taken refuge in Afghanistan and most of them have submitted their allegiance to Daesh’s affiliate (Islamic State Khorasan Province). However, it is still possible that a foreign power might exploit the angry few still resisting the writ of governmentfor their vested interests. Nonetheless, Pakistan’s efforts in reducing any kind of dependence on Afghanistan for the sake of curbing extremism at home is undeniable; and assisting any proscribed organisations to stage attacks abroad is unthinkable due to the country’s close scrutiny through international regimes like FATF. Additionally, the country has been facing some serious economic challenges, as a result of the US’ cancellation of aid and poor economic planning. For this reason, Islamabad rushed to its rich allies to help bolster foreign cash reserves.

If Tehran and Islamabad act prudently, they can find ways, in collaboration with Russia and China, to reduce Kashmiri and Palestinian grievances and calm Afghanistan. Otherwise, it would be hard to ensure peace in their restive provinces along the border

Under the circumstances, Rouhani Administration becoming a victim of Indian propaganda and issuing anti-peace statements is unprecedented. Not only has the senior Iranian civil and military leadership threatened Pakistan of consequences but it has also sided with India to develop the Afghan scenario. Tehran must refrain from becoming a pawn in New-Delhi’s hands for the sake of its converging interests with Pakistan and to maintain the status-quo in Sistan and Balochistan. It is also crucial for both Pakistan and Iran to address and deal with each other to avoid any kind of previous post-Soviet withdrawal scenario when the US plans to draw down materialise; as well as to counter any threat emanating from the volatile Afghanistan to disrupt the status-quo of the said provinces. Pakistan must run an extra mile to address Iranian grievances regarding the security threats posed by terrorist organisations. Interestingly, Pakistan stands against the US-Israeli stance on JCPOA and Jerusalem. The country also abhors any such idea designed and promoted in Warsaw. Pakistan can also be instrumental in the future to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran. On the other hand, Iran has been one of the staunch supporters of right of self-determination of Kashmiris by highlighting the issue at the UN and through its national media. Different sets of events have brought to the fore a make or break situation. If Tehran and Islamabad act prudently, they can find ways, in collaboration with Russia and China, to reduce Kashmiri and Palestinian grievances and calm Afghanistan. Otherwise, it would be hard to ensure peace in their restive provinces along the border.

The author has completed his M.Phil in International Relations from Quaid i Azam University Islamabad

Published in Daily Times, February 21st 2019.