Iran informed Pakistan it is considering sending troops across the border to free five guards kidnapped on February 8 by the Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl. The militants captured the guards just over the border inside Iran before retreating into Pakistan. Last week, Saudi television station Al Arabiya broadcast a video that showed the guards in captivity and demanded the release of 300 Sunni prisoners in Iran and Syria in exchange for their return.Since the kidnapping, Teheran’s requests that Pakistan find and return the guards have grown increasingly belligerent. The BBC reports:
On Monday, Mr Rahmani-Fazli was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency: “If Pakistan doesn’t take the needed steps to fight against the terrorist groups, we will send our forces into Pakistani soil. We will not wait for this country.”It was Iran’s right to “intervene and create a new security sphere for our safety”, he added. […]The deputy chief-of-staff of Iran’s armed forces meanwhile told the Fars news agency that “political and military measures are under way to set them free”.
Iran still hasn’t acted on any of its threats, but alarm bells are no doubt sounding in Islamabad. The two countries have had a rocky relationship as of late. Sending troops across the border would be a massive provocation.The Gulf Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia, have been moving closer to Pakistan in recent months to build up a counterweight to the rise of Shia Iran. Iran’s increasing belligerence will only make Islamabad more receptive to deepening its already close relationship with Saudi Arabia.