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Updated January 17th, 2024 at 18:00 IST

Skepticism surrounds Iran-Pakistan naval exercise as Tehran strikes ‘terror targets’ in Balochistan

Iran and Pakistan engaged in naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, even as Tehran launched airstrikes in Pakistan's Balochistan.

Yuvraj Tyagi
Iran Air Force
Iran Air Force | Image:AP
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Islamabad: In a curious turn of events, the Iranian and Pakistani Navy engaged in joint naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, raising eyebrows as Iran simultaneously carried out airstrikes in Pakistan's Balochistan region. The joint naval exercise, seemingly focused on naval maneuvers and communication checks, featured missile launchers and warships from both nations. However, skepticism looms over the true intentions, especially as Iran conducts airstrikes on Pakistani soil.

The joint naval exercise, held in the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz, aimed to strengthen ties through the exchange of training experiences among officers and non-commissioned officers. Despite longstanding tensions between Iran and Pakistan, particularly in the volatile border region, questions arise regarding the sincerity of the collaboration. The history of mistrust and regional power dynamics casts doubt on the true nature of this seemingly cooperative effort. 

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Unraveling the airstrikes drama 

Simultaneously, Iran launched airstrikes on Pakistani territory, claiming to target bases of the Sunni militant group, Jaish al-Adl. Skepticism surrounds these assertions, as Pakistan reported the strikes as an "illegal" violation of its airspace, leading to casualties, including the tragic death of two children. The incident marks a concerning escalation in the ongoing tensions between the two nations, raising questions about the true motivations behind the airstrikes.

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Jaish al-Adl

The airstrikes in Pakistan followed Iranian missile strikes in Syria and Iraq, purportedly in response to a double suicide bombing in Kerman on January 3. With the Islamic State (IS) claiming responsibility for the Kerman attack, Tehran's reprisals targeted enemies in Syria and Iraq. However, the abrupt extension of these measures to Pakistan raises doubts about Iran's motivations and the broader regional repercussions. 

Pakistan's firm response amid skepticism 

In response to the airstrikes, Pakistan expelled Iran's ambassador and recalled its own ambassador, displaying a robust response to what it termed an "unprovoked and blatant breach" of its sovereignty. The strongly-worded statement condemned the attack as a violation of international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Pakistan asserted its right to respond to the "illegal act," signaling a firm stance in the face of uncertainty.

The complex geopolitical landscape involving Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, and potentially other regional players adds layers of uncertainty to an already volatile situation. As skepticism surrounds Pakistan's role and responses, the escalating violence, airstrikes, and naval exercises underscore the intricate web of relationships and conflicts shaping the region's future. The international community watches closely, concerned about the potential ripple effects of these events on global stability. 

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Balochistan's persistent role 

A key factor adding to the skepticism is the longstanding tension between Iran and Pakistan, fueled by Balochi separatists and militant groups in the border region. The region has witnessed a low-intensity insurgency for over two decades, with suspicions of Pakistan providing a haven for insurgents. The recent airstrikes mark a significant escalation on Pakistani soil, raising questions about the true nature of the relationship between the two neighboring nations.

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Meanwhile, the broader regional consequences of the Iranian reprisals, coupled with the skepticism surrounding Pakistan's actions and reactions, contribute to a climate of uncertainty. Iraq, which faced Iranian missile strikes in the same wave of reprisals, denounced the attacks as a "blatant violation" of its sovereignty. As doubts persist about the motivations behind these actions, skepticism becomes a prevailing theme in the reportage of the unfolding events in the Middle East. 

The joint naval exercise and the subsequent airstrikes have heightened uncertainty in the already complex geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. The skepticism surrounding the motivations and responses of both Iran and Pakistan underscores the delicate nature of their relationship. As the international community closely monitors the situation, the region finds itself navigating through turbulent waters with the potential for broader repercussions looming on the horizon. 

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Published January 17th, 2024 at 17:35 IST

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