Iran summons Pakistan envoy to protest against suicide attack

Tehran 'explicitly conveyed' to Islamabad it expects 'serious and decisive action' against the Jaish al-Adl armed group.

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    Mourners gather on Saturday in Esfahan to bury the victims of Wednesday's suicide attack [Ebrahim Noroozi/AP]
    Mourners gather on Saturday in Esfahan to bury the victims of Wednesday's suicide attack [Ebrahim Noroozi/AP]

    Iran has lodged an official protest with Pakistan's ambassador to Tehran over a suicide attack in Sistan-Baluchestan province last week that killed 27 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Sunday that Iran "explicitly conveyed" to Pakistani Ambassador Rafat Masoud that Tehran expects Islamabad and its military "to make a serious and decisive action" against the Jaish al-Adl  groupand its base inside its territory, Mehr news agency reported.

    Ghasemi also said the foreign ministry asked Pakistan to take "immediate and necessary measures" to identify and arrest the attackers, who carried out Wednesday's bombing, which also left 13 Revolutionary Guard members wounded.

    Masoud took over her post as Pakistan's first female ambassador to Iran in August. 

    The diplomatic protest came as Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani said in a strongly-worded statement that "the Pakistani government should be accountable for this act involving the group orchestrating and conducting the operation from their territory".

    Larijani said Pakistan "cannot act irresponsibly", adding that "such behaviour will severely damage the level of cooperation" between the neighbouring countries.

    Speaking at an event in Hormozgan province on Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani also repeated his earlier threat to avenge the attack, saying he "regrets" the "wrong policies" of Iran's neighbours, without mentioning Pakistan.

    On Saturday, Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister, held a last-minute meeting with Sushma Swaraj, the foreign minister of India, the regional rival of Pakistan, to discuss the attack in Sistan-Baluchestan and a similar incident in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed 42 paramilitary members.

    Ghasemi said Iran asked Pakistan to immediately arrest and prosecute Jaish al-Adl members responsible for the attack that killed 27 [File: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA]

    Both Jaish al-Adl and Jaish-e-Muhammad, which claimed responsibility for the attack in Kashmir, are based in Pakistan.

    Iran shares an almost 1,000km border with Pakistan, and in recent years has borne the brunt of cross-border attacks carried out by Jaish al-Adl and other affiliated armed groups.

    In response to Iran's demand, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi announced on Sunday that he wound send a special delegation to Tehran to hold talks about the attack.

    Qureshi said it was "regrettable" that the incident took place and promised Pakistan's "cooperation" in the investigation.

    Taha Siddiqui, a Pakistani journalist and founder of safenewsrooms.org, however said the decision was yet another proof of Pakistani authorities playing "double games".

    "While on the face they may do some cosmetic changes, on the ground the policy won't change," Siddiqui said.

    He said Islamabad has "no incentive" for taking concrete actions against Jaish al-Adl "as it serves Pakistani interests to continue having militant proxies" at the border.

    "Many of these groups have Saudi funding, but since Pakistan is dependent on Saudi aid, it turns a blind eye," on the existence of Jaish al-Adl and other armed groups, Siddiqui told Al Jazeera.

    He also said Pakistan's military had allowed Sunni armed groups to "flourish as it serves them the purpose of containing the perceived Shia threat."

    Founded in 2010

    Jaish al-Adl was founded after its parent group, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jundullah, was dissolved following the capture and execution of its leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, by Iran in 2010.

    In 2013, the group abducted and killed 14 Iranian forces in an ambush near the Iranian-Pakistani border.

    The following year, at least five members of the Iranian security forces were also abducted.

    In October 2018, the armed group abducted 12 Iranian security personnel near the southeastern city of Zahedan. Pakistani security forces later intervened and secured the release of at least five of the 12 abductees.

    Reza Khaasteh, a Tehran-based journalist, told Al Jazeera that Iran needs Pakistan's cooperation to go after Jaish al-Adl.

    "Back in November, Iran's interior ministry had warned that Iranian forces may launch operations against terrorists inside the Pakistani territory in case Islamabad fails to do its part."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News