Shah Mahmoud Quraishi
Shah Mahmoud Quraishi Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday lodged a strong protest with Iran on its inaction against militants involved in killing of 14 innocent Pakistanis in Ormara, Balochistan, on April 18.

The statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said that “Pakistan has repeatedly shared intelligence about these activities” and information about “the hubs of these Baloch terrorist organisations in Iran, having training camps and logistics bases across the border” on a number of occasions. However, “Unfortunately, no action has been taken by Iran in this regard, to date,” the letter stated.

The letter addressed to the Iranian embassy urged Iran for “prompt action” against terrorist groups based in Iran, “whose locations have been identified by Pakistan a number of times.” The “killing of 14 innocent Pakistanis by terrorist groups based in Iran is a very serious incident that Pakistan protests strongly” it said.

Later in a press conference, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Quraishi said he hoped Iran would take visible action against anti-Pakistan elements, operating on the border and conspiring against relations between both countries. Quraishi said that the whole country was “angry and upset” over the incident. Pakistan has the forensic evidence, he said, which could be shared to trace these “criminals”.

Prior to the press briefing, the foreign minister had spoken to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and conveyed sentiments of the Pakistani people and expectations of the government. “We also expect that our brother and friend [Iran] will take visible action” to eliminate terrorism. During the telephonic conversation with FM Qureshi, Iranian foreign minister condemned the incident and offered all cooperation to help Pakistan trace the terrorists.

The protest letter, describing the April 18 Ormara attack recalled that around “15-20 terrorists who camouflaged themselves in Frontier Corps (FC) uniform, barricaded the road and stopped 3-4 buses travelling from Ormara to Gwadar [in Balochistan]” on the highway on April 18 and “shot down 14 personnel belonging to the armed forces” after forcibly offloading them from the bus. According to the ministry’s letter, “BRAS” is an alliance of three Baloch terrorist organisations that claimed responsibility for the brutal terrorist attack. Following the incident, MoFA said that the terrorists, who had “arrived from the border region, returned to that area”.

Pakistan’s strong reaction came on the eve of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first official visit to Iran on April 21-22 during which he would be accompanied by a high level delegation of key ministers.

Beefing up border security

Pakistan announces these six measures to ensure security along Pakistan-Iran border:

• A new command, headquartered in Turbat, has been formed to effectively handle the border issues.

• A new Frontier Corps has been raised to well-manage the border.

• Joint border centres to be established based on the consultations between Pakistan and Iran.

• Pakistan to fence its 950km border with Iran the way the Pak-Afghan border was being fenced.

• Border patrolling exercises to be synchronised.

• Heli-surveillance to be conducted by the two countries.