Pakistan just became a bigger security threat to Iran

Recently there was the kidnapping of five Iranian soldiers by Pakistan based Sunni Iranian militants.

And today a Pakistani Taliban group carried out a suicide bombing near Iran’s consulate in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing two people.

There have been attacks from Pakistan before. However during the past year, Pakistan has started to become a bigger security threat to Iran.

Why is that? What has brought this change?

In my opinion, two factors:

One is the war in Syria. Iran’s support for Assad’s attacks against Sunnis has energized many anti-Shia terror groups. This includes groups in Pakistan.

The other reason is Pakistan’s current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He entered office in June last year.

And what is so different about Sharif? 

“Compared to his predecessor, Sharif is much closer to the Saudi regime, which is one of Iran’s staunchest rivals in the region. In fact, when Sharif was deposed in a bloodless coup as Pakistan’s prime minister in 1999, it was Saudi intervention which saved him from jail. He then went to live in Saudi Arabia until 2007. Since coming to power, Sharif has met with the Saudi king again.

As the saying in Northern Ireland during “the Troubles” went: “Collusion is not an illusion“.

Recommended documentary : Balochistan: Pakistan’s other war

The pink area shows areas populated by Baluchis in Iran and Pakistan

There have been numerous attacks against Iranian military forces and in some cases civilians by Baluchistan based armed groups over the last decade.

Pakistan has also been facing its own war on its side of Baluchistan.

That is not to say that both problems are the same as Pakistan’s war in Baluchistan is more nationalist in nature than that of Iran’s.

In Iran some Baluchis complain of being discriminated against because they are Sunni. In Pakistan however Baluchis want to be independent again, as they were between 1947 and 1948 for 9 months.  Its much more nationalism based than religious.

This excellent documentary by AlJazeera English looks at the challenges and complaints by the Baluchis and the Pakistani government, as well as the basis of the war there.

I highly recommend this documentary.