Pakistan-Iran border tensions: A timeline

The latest Iranian missile attacks on Pakistan add to a long list of incidents that led to border tensions between the neighbours.

Pakistan and Iran stand on the verge of a breakdown in diplomatic ties after an Iranian missile attack on Pakistan killed two children and injured three others on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Pakistan recalled its ambassador from Tehran after denouncing the attack and barred Iran’s envoy to Islamabad — who is travelling — from returning to Pakistan.

Islamabad accused Iran of violating Pakistani airspace and Iranian state media said missiles targeted two bases of the Jaish al-Adl armed group.

But while the rhetoric from Islamabad points to a growing crisis sparked by the Iranian attacks, the two countries have frequently had to navigate tensions along their 900km (559-mile) long volatile border.

Border of Iran and Pakistan

Here is a recap of a few past incidents of violence, some of which have soured the diplomatic relationship between the neighbours:

December 2023

The Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), which is blacklisted by Iran as a “terror” group, claimed responsibility for a police station attack in the Iranian town of Rask in the southeastern border province of Sistan-Baluchestan, which killed 11 Iranian security personnel. The attack was condemned by Pakistan.

June 2023

Pakistani military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), released a statement saying armed “terrorists” killed two Pakistani soldiers at a checkpoint in the Singwan area of the Kech district. Pakistan contacted Iranian authorities to thwart attempts by fighters to escape into Iran.

April 2023

The ISPR announced that attackers from Iran killed four of its border patrol soldiers in the Jalgai sector of Kech district.

January 2023

Shehbaz Sharif, who was Pakistan’s prime minister at the time, condemned the killing of four security officials along the border with Iran in Balochistan. After the attack in the Chukab sector of Panjgur district, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) urged Iran to investigate the matter and hold the perpetrators accountable. The Iranian embassy in Islamabad condemned this attack.

September 2021

Pakistan claimed that a soldier had been killed in cross-border firing from Iran, blaming it on “terrorists” in Iran. The attack took place following the reopening of the border between the two countries for bilateral trade on September 20, following a four-month closure over security concerns.

February 2021

Iranian soldiers entered Pakistani territory to rescue two intelligence agents that Tehran said had been captured by “terrorists”.

April 20, 2019

Pakistan’s former foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, told the media that Iran-based “terrorists” from the Raji Aajoi Sangar separatist group attacked passengers on a bus in Balochistan, killing 14 people, including 10 navy officers, three air force staffers and one from the coastguard.

December 6, 2018

Four policemen were killed and 42 other people were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack on the police headquarters in Iran’s southern port city of Chabahar, Iranian media reported. Iran’s then-Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blamed “foreign-backed terrorists” in what was widely interpreted as an accusation against Pakistan. The MFA in Islamabad condemned the attack.

October 16, 2018

Twelve Iranian security personnel, including intelligence officers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), were allegedly kidnapped on the southeastern border with Pakistan. Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility for this. Pakistani security forces helped Iran secure the release of at least five of the 12 abductees from the armed group.

April 17, 2018

IRGC said three Iranian security personnel were killed by armed fighters in a cross-border attack on a border post in the city of Mirjaveh in Sistan-Baluchestan province.

June 22, 2017

Pakistan’s foreign office said the air force shot down an Iranian drone flying in Punjgur territory. It was the first time an Iranian drone was shot down by Pakistan.

April 26, 2017

Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility for an attack in Mirjaveh that killed 10 Iranian border guards. The Iranian state media reported quoting police officials that the killings were carried out by long-range guns and “the Pakistani government bears the ultimate responsibility of the attack”.

Earlier attacks

Jaish al-Adl has been launching attacks against Iranian border guards since at least 2013 when it killed 14 Iranian soldiers in an ambush near the border.

In 2014, at least five members of Iranian forces were abducted.

In December 2010, 41 people were killed and 90 others wounded in a suicide attack near a mosque in Chabahar.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies