Thursday, March 13, 2014

The western frontier

The powers that be need to find a way to prevent the fight in Syria from spreading to SAsia. Iran and Pakistan must engage in confidence building exercise, it will be a very nice gesture on behalf of Pakistan to get the (5) Iranian guards released safely and returned home. If the western frontier goes up in flames the suffering of aam aadmi in Baluchistan and elsewhere will reach a crisis point (if it has not already done so).

In the immediate aftermath of the kidnappings, the Iranian government expressed indignation at the Pakistan government for its failure to do more to curb the tide of Sunni Islamists in the country. Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli went so far as to threaten to send Iranian troops into Pakistan to secure the border guards’ release.

This prompted Islamabad to respond by saying, “Iranian forces have no authority to cross our borders in violation of the international law. We must respect each other’s borders.” It also added, “The government of Pakistan regrets the suggestions of negligence on its part over the incident, especially when Pakistan’s active support against terrorists groups in the past is well-known and acknowledged by Iran.”

A more serious flashpoint between Pakistan and Iran is taking place farther away in Syria. Specifically, numerous media outlets and private intelligence firms have confirmed that recent Pakistani-Saudi Arabian defense cooperation meetings have been aimed at reaching an agreement whereby Riyadh would purchase military arms from Islamabad for Syrian opposition forces. According to the reports, Saudi funds will be used to purchase Chinese shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles—among other weapons—that will be smuggled into Syria via Jordan.

Such a deal would place Pakistan and Iran closer to direct confrontation as Iranian troops and their Hezbollah allies have long been operating in Syria in an effort to shore up the Bashar al-Assad government. Should Pakistani supplied arms bring down an Iranian transport plane, for example, Tehran would be hard pressed not to retaliate against Pakistan in some fashion.


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