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Pakistan-Iran to Restore Diplomatic Relations Amidst Recent Tensions

Pakistan and Iran

In what appears to be a stride towards restoration of normalcy, following recent escalations, Pakistan and Iran have jointly announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations.

The decision entails the return of ambassadors to their respective capitals by January 26, 2024, as per a mutually agreed arrangement reached during a telephone conversation between the foreign ministers of both countries.

Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani extended an invitation to his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, who is scheduled to visit Pakistan on January 29. The visit aims to further discussions on future collaboration and establish a new mechanism to prevent the recurrence of recent events that momentarily strained the long-standing relationship between the two nations.

While Pakistan and Iran often emphasize their “friendly and brotherly” ties, underlying issues have caused suspicion on both sides. A key concern involves the use of each other’s soil by certain terrorist groups. Pakistan has expressed longstanding worries about Baloch terrorist outfits finding refuge in Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan province, while Iran has pointed to anti-Iran militant groups, such as Jaish al-Adl, allegedly having hideouts in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

The recent tit-for-tat attacks saw Iran launching cross-border missile strikes, claiming to target Jaish al-Adl hideouts. In retaliation, Pakistan conducted strikes against what it identified as Baloch terrorists’ sanctuaries. Iran later confirmed that those killed in Pakistani strikes were not Iranians. In the aftermath, both countries are eager to establish a new arrangement to prevent such incidents in the future.

One proposal under consideration is strengthening existing mechanisms to enhance cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Rather than violating each other’s sovereignty, Pakistan and Iran may deepen intelligence cooperation. The foreign ministers of both countries have spoken twice since the recent attacks, expressing their commitment to working closely on resolving the matter.

Both nations have signaled a desire to de-escalate tensions. Pakistan’s National Security Committee termed the tit-for-tat attacks as “minor irritants” during its recent meeting. Similarly, Iran emphasized its adherence to a policy of friendly ties with Islamabad, stressing that no external enemies should strain their cooperation.