India reacts to escalation between Iran and Pakistan
The Indian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday weighed in on Iran’s strikes in Pakistan’s Balochistan province a day earlier, targeting the military bases of what it called an “Iranian terrorist group” on Pakistani soil.
In a statement late last night, New Delhi said, “we understand actions that countries take in their self-defense,” which was interpreted as “backing” Iran by the Indian media.
While the Foreign Ministry referred to the escalation as a bilateral "matter” between Iran and Pakistan, it reiterated its “uncompromising position of zero tolerance towards terrorism.”
The statement came hours before Pakistan reiterated by firing missiles into the Sistan-o-Balochistan province in southern Iran in the early hours of Thursday, targeting “terrorist hideouts.” The retaliation came after Pakistan strongly condemned the Iranian attack as a “violation of international law,” recalled its ambassador from Iran, and warned its neighbor of “serious consequences.”
In a statement on Thursday, Islamabad claimed the “precision” operation neutralized several militants in Iran’s Sistan-o-Balochistan province, claiming that it had raised “serious concerns” with Tehran in recent years over “safe havens and sanctuaries enjoyed by Pakistani origin terrorists” based on Iranian soil, but Tehran had failed to act on the complaints.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials, cited by local media, said on Thursday that explosions in the Sistan-o-Balochistan province had killed seven non-Iranian nationals, including three women and four children. Similarly, Pakistan’s foreign minister claimed the Iranian attacks on Balochistan province a day earlier had resulted in the “death of two innocent children while injuring three girls.”
Iran’s strikes on Pakistan came a day after Tehran attacked neighboring Syria and Iraq in response to bombings in the Iranian city of Kerman earlier this month that killed nearly 100 people, for which Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) took responsibility. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched a barrage of ballistic missiles against targets in Syria and northern Iraq, including what it described as an “espionage center” in the Iraqi city of Erbil.
Speaking to CNBC in Davos, Switzerland, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the strikes were “in line with combating terrorism and legitimate self-defense.” The major escalation in the region comes days after Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visited Tehran, where he discussed the situation in Gaza and the continuing attacks on vital shipping routes passing through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden with his counterpart. Jaishankar also met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.