Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will pay an official visit to Iran in May to hold talks with Iranian authorities, Pakistan’s foreign minister, Sartaj Aziz, announced today. The exact date of the visit has not been set yet. (Press TV, 2 April)
Aziz, who is also the country’s national security advisor, said today that the premier’s visit will aim to improve Tehran-Islamabad relations. He added, “the balance of the relationship among Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is crucial.”
Sharif’s visit will come at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries. In February, the militant Baluch group Jaish ul-Adl kidnapped five Iranian border guards and has since announced the execution of one of them. The Iranians believe the group is holding its hostages inside the Pakistani territory, with Pakistan not doing enough to find them. There are also suspicions by the Iranians that the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, might know more about the location of the hostages than publicly reported. Pakistani officials have said, however, that the NAJA border guards are not kept in Pakistani territory.
Earlier this week, IRGC took over the responsibility for the security of Baluchistan and its borders with Pakistan, and it is expected that the IRGC will now conduct long-term anti-terrorist operations in greater Baluchistan against militant Baluch groups who hold sanctuaries on the Pakistani side of the border.
The IRGC has been similarly operating in Kurdistan for many years, in an ongoing fight against the Kurdish militant group PJAK. Baluchistan will become the second front for the IRGC inside Iran. Externally, its Quds Force is actively involved in the Syrian civil war.
It is also expected that the IRGC Special Forces, the Saberin, and other elements of IRGC ground forces stationed in Baluchistan, start a search and rescue operation to find and free the remaining hostages, which would entail a military incursion inside Pakistan.
Photo credit: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (Press TV)