Tensions suddenly escalated between the two neighbors: Pakistan and Iran, when the latter launched ballistic missiles and drones at what was said to be the strongholds of the Sunni “Army of Justice” organization based in Pakistan, which Iran accuses of carrying out operations inside its territory. Pakistan immediately responded with air and missile bombardment to what it described as With the headquarters of Baloch separatist groups, represented by the “Balochistan Liberation Army” and the “Balochistan Liberation Front”, which take the Iranian Baloch province of Sistan as a starting point for their activities against Pakistan.
The surprise to Pakistani political and military observers is the way Iran responded violently in this unprecedented manner in the relations of the two countries, especially since high-level contacts were taking place between officials of the two countries, in addition to the fact that the recent operations were not claimed by the “Army of Justice,” but rather by the “ISIS” organization. Iran responded by bombing what it said were ISIS strongholds in Idlib Governorate, which had been purged of the organization years ago, while everyone knows that the latter is active in the regions of eastern Syria, where the geography of the region is shared by militias loyal to Iran and Russia, with American forces and their allied Kurdish SDF forces.
Iran and Pakistan are using Baloch groups as proxy wars, in order to gain geopolitical and economic privileges, but what is clear is that Pakistan retreated from this policy in that period because of President Pervez Musharraf’s abandonment of supporting and protecting these groups at that time.
Baloch groups and proxy wars
The Baloch rebellion in Pakistan dates back to 1973, when Baloch groups demanded more economic and political rights, especially since the Pakistani province of Balochistan is the largest in area in Pakistan, the least demographic in it, and the richest in natural resources, such as gas, with a view of the Arabian Gulf, which was later granted to it. To have a port that is the most important geostrategically and politically in the region after China’s investment in it.
But the Baloch incubator sees all of this as a servant of the other Pakistani regions, specifically Punjab, which constitutes more than 60% of Pakistan’s population, while the people of the region are deprived even of the gas that the region produces, and with the passage of time, rebellion and anger grew among the Baloch movements that resorted to gaining support from Russia. Sometimes, America, India, and Iran at other times, and the arrival of Afghan governments close to Russia and America in the past decades helped strengthen the presence of such groups, and their danger and threat increased, but after the year 2000, the “Balochistan Liberation Army” appeared, and then the “Balochistan Liberation Front,” which, according to Pakistani estimates, took From the Iranian regions neighboring Pakistan as a starting point for their activities.
With the growth of the activities of the Afghan Taliban movement against American and Western forces in general, the activities of armed Islamic groups grew in Pakistan and on the Iranian border, and among them was the “Jundallah” group led by Abdul Malik Rigi, who Pakistan expelled to Afghanistan, so that the American forces – which were there… – By handing him over in a deal, as was said, to Iran, and he was later executed. As a result, the operations of “Jundallah” declined, and even declined, until the “Army of Justice” appeared in 2012, which was considered an extension of “Jundallah,” and was active in its military and security operations against Iranian forces, and his last announced action was the killing of Colonel Hussein Ali Javadanfar, commander of the Persian Suleiman Corps in Sistan, and before that was the attack that targeted a police station last December, in the northeast of the country, resulting in the deaths of 11 people.
In 2010 I was I'm making a movie About the Baloch of Pakistan, I delved into the details of the Baloch scene extending from Pakistan to Iran and Afghanistan. During the preparation of the film, I met senior rebel leaders, and Pakistani and Afghan political figures concerned with the file, in addition to an in-depth reading of the Baloch reality in the region. I observed important details and huge regional and international intersections, and it appeared to me The Baloch are nationalists and Islamists, victims of these regional and international conflicts and settlements.
It also became clear to me that both countries, Iran and Pakistan, were using Baloch groups as proxy wars, in order to gain geopolitical and economic privileges, but what is clearer is that Pakistan retreated from this policy in that period due to President Pervez Musharraf’s abandonment of supporting and protecting these groups at that time, going so far as to even ban Kashmiri groups. . As for Iran, it continued its well-known policy of building militias loyal to it in its neighboring regions, and even far from it. The Pakistani Shiite “Zainabiyoun” Brigade was formed, which is fighting in Syria now, which worries the Pakistani authorities that it will later be used as a tool of proxy wars to target their presence.
China is a mediator… and fear for the Belt and Road project
The Chinese strategy – regionally and globally today – is dependent on the expansion of its economic projects, and on top of these projects is the Belt and Road project, which includes roads and ports in order to reach Europe via Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Gulf. The recent tensions come to reflect negatively on this road map, or on the project. China's massive economic-military investment in Pakistan's Gwadar port, which is seen as a threat to Iran's Charbahar ports.
This reality is what prompted China to intervene quickly in order to contain the Iranian-Pakistani escalation, but it appears that Islamabad did not accept the Chinese offer not to respond to the Iranian bombing, which reminded the Pakistanis of the offer of US President Bill Clinton in May 1998, the day he offered… Pakistan did not respond to the Indian nuclear explosions, in exchange for a package of tempting American support for it, which was rejected by the political leadership, represented by Nawaz Sharif, and the military, represented by Pervez Musharraf, and they insisted on carrying out nuclear tests, which made it possible to make Pakistan a recognized nuclear state, and protected it more than once. From any Indian adventure in encroaching on it, as long as the Pakistani nuclear deterrent is present and frightening not only to India, but also to Western and even logical countries that were rushing to defuse any Indian-Pakistani confrontation to prevent the region from being drawn into a confrontation beyond Pakistan and India.
Pakistan..internal boiling and imminent elections
Although some believe that the Iranian bombing came to strengthen Pakistani national unity in light of the internal tensions it is suffering from, on the other hand, it came under extremely difficult circumstances, the first of which is: the continued imprisonment of a former and popular elected Prime Minister, Imran Khan, and the resulting tensions with… The military establishment, coupled with Pakistan's approaching general elections on the eighth of next month, which puts before it several entitlements, and what increases the seriousness of the Pakistani situation is the state of coldness or tension in its relations with the Afghan Taliban, against the backdrop of its accusations of the latter providing safe haven for the Taliban. Pakistan, which continuously targets Pakistani state institutions.
But in general, everyone who knows Pakistan and its history knows full well that the military, who ruled for more than half of its history, are the ones who decide on war and peace, and therefore no matter how weak or fragile the political government is, the final decision ultimately rests with the Pakistani army, which is considered the true inheritor of the state.
Prospects for escalation
I think that the speed of the Pakistani response, by severing relations, withdrawing ambassadors, and direct military response to the Iranian bombing, came as a surprise to the Iranian leadership, which thought that the Pakistani response would not go beyond issuing statements and declarations, but the question of the million in Islamabad remains about the reason for this unjustified Iranian escalation in the eyes of the Pakistani elites. Thus, a nuclear state with military capabilities superior to the Iranian side will be challenged.
Here, the Pakistani military and security kitchen will remain focused, perhaps for months, analyzing this Iranian move, its repercussions, and what will follow.
What remains worrying for Pakistan now is that it is preoccupied with two fronts, namely the Indian front, on which the majority of its army is stationed, and the front with Iran, which is what America was blackmailing it with during its invasion of Afghanistan, so that the majority of its army was directed to the northwestern front facing Afghanistan, which would entail… He must weaken its capabilities and potential.
Some Pakistani military circles justified not responding to the Iranian raids and bombing, by saying that all their anti-aircraft guns and equipment were stationed on the Indian front, and they did not believe that there was a need to deploy anti-aircraft guns on the Iranian front, which means that the next stage will impose on the Pakistani military leadership the distribution of its forces. And its military capabilities on two fronts, which will benefit its traditional enemy India, especially under the extremist Hindu government of Modi, not against Indian Muslims, Kashmiris and Pakistanis, but even with regard to other non-Hindu minorities such as Sikhs and Christians.
Diplomacy has succeeded or not in reducing tension between the two countries. After January 17, it is not the same as before in the region in general, especially since multiple internal, logical, and international factors and variables are intertwined in the issue, and will be intertwined in the future.
Pakistan, which in its worst nightmares did not expect such an Iranian attack – as Iran is supposed to be, according to Pakistani speculation, busy and engaged in the line of confronting the aggression on Gaza, as well as the successive developments in the Red Sea – is now surprised by attacking Pakistan, which is – popularly and even institutionally – busy. With strength in the mobilization, mobilization, and support for Gaza, the military establishment, in cooperation with the Service Institution, sent tens of thousands of tons of food supplies to Egypt and then to Gaza.
The coming days remain very important in shaping the Iranian-Pakistani and logical scene in general, and we are waiting to understand the reason for the Iranian escalation against Pakistan, the prospects for this escalation and its repercussions on a logical powder keg extending from Russia and India to Iran and Afghanistan.