LONDON: The head of the Iranian armed forces warned Islamabad on Monday that Tehran would hit bases inside Pakistan if the government did not confront the militants who carried out cross-border attacks.
In the same way, Tehran’s defence minister was quoted as saying on Sunday after a Saudi prince threatened to move the “battle” to Iran, Tehran would hit back at most of Saudi Arabia with the exception of Makkah and Madina if the kingdom did anything in “ignorance”.
Ten Iranian border guards were killed by militants last month allegedly in an attack from the Pakistan side. Iran said that Jaish al Adl, a militant group, had shot the guards with long-range guns, fired from inside Pakistan. The border area had long been plagued by unrest from both drug smuggling gangs and separatist militants.
“We cannot accept the continuation of this situation,” Major General Mohammad Baqeri, head of the Iranian armed forces, was quoted as saying by state news agency Irna. “We expect the Pakistani officials to control the borders, arrest the terrorists and shut down their bases. If the terrorist attacks continue, we will hit their safe havens and cells, wherever they are,” he said.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Pakistan last week and asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to improve the border security. Pakistan assured Iran it would deploy additional troops along its border.
Jaish al Adl is a religious militant group that has carried out several attacks against Iranian security forces with an aim of highlighting what they say is discrimination against certain elements in Iran.
The group claimed responsibility for attacks that killed eight border guards in April 2015 and 14 border guards in October 2013.
Meanwhile, Iran alleged that eastern border with Pakistanhad become a safe haven for training terrorists recruited by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States. “Unfortunately, Iran’s eastern border region with Pakistan has become a safe haven for training and equipping terrorists recruited by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States,” Major General Mohammad Baqeri said while speaking in a local ceremony in Tehran.
“We will not tolerate this situation in the joint borders and expect the Pakistani officials to show responsibility, control their borders, arrest terrorists and shut down outlaws’ bases,” Baqeri said, referring to Pakistani people and officials’ interest in Iran and its leadership.
General Baqeri said that enemies should know that they would be given an immediate, decisive and annihilating response for any aggression against Iran. “Enemies are trying to damage the country’s security using all available tools,” he said.
General Baqeri urged the armed forces to promote their scientific skills and equip themselves with sophisticated technologies in order to get prepared for countering various types of threats.
Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying, “If the Saudis do anything ignorant, we will leave no area untouched except Makkah and Madina.”
“They think they can do something because they have an air force,” he added in an apparent reference to Yemen, where Saudi war planes regularly attack Iran-aligned Houthi forces in control of the capital Sanaa.
Dehghan, speaking to Arabic-language Al-Manar TV, was commenting on remarks by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said on Tuesday any contest for influence between the kingdom and the revolutionary theocracy ought to take place “inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia”.
In unusually blunt comments in a nationally-televised interview, Prince Mohammed ruled out any dialogue with Iran and pledged to protect his conservative kingdom from what he called Tehran’s efforts to dominate the Muslim world. “We know that we are a main goal for the Iranian regime,” he said.
“We will not wait until the battle spreads to Saudi Arabia but we will work to have the battle in Iran rather than in Saudi Arabia.”