(Persia Digest) – An analyst of Pakistan affairs in Tehran believes: “The terrorist attacks in eastern Iran can become a trap to entangle Tehran and Islamabad in an uncontrollable war in this area.”
Last week, a suicide attack on a bus carrying IRGC border guards in southeastern Iran martyred 27 and injured scores of others. Reacting to the massacre, the IRGC Commander asked the President for a carte blanche to punish the perpetrators. In the meantime, Pakistan’s foreign minister has announced his country’s conditional readiness to normalize ties with Israel. Saudi Crown Prince Ben Salman has also traveled to Pakistan.
Why were expectations for improved relations between Pakistan and Iran not met under Imran Khan?
Pir Mohammad Mollazehi, analyst of Pakistan affairs in Tehran, told Persia Digest (PD): “Pakistan depends heavily on the Persian Gulf states for money. Currently, six million Pakistani nationals work in these states as skilled and semiskilled workers and technicians. This provides a handsome sum of foreign currency for Pakistan. Also, units of this country’s military have been stationed in Saudi Arabia from the past and even formed the Royal Saudi Guard under Zia ul Haq.”
He added: “As such, Islamabad and Riyadh are interdependent. When Trump suspended the USD 2BN aid to Pakistan for the alleged lack of support in Islamabad in fighting the Taliban, Islamabad had to find a new financial source. Saudi Arabia was the only country who was ready to compensate for this amount. So, contrary to expectations, Imran Khan traveled to Saudi Arabia instead of Iran following his election. Once there, he received the sum of USD 3BN, plus the promise of a USD 3BN loan.”
This analyst of Subcontinent affairs stressed: “Although Pakistan claims to have established balanced relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, signs indicate that Islamabad is leaning towards Riyadh. As such, it is probable that Pakistan will fit into the anti-Iran framework created by Israel, the US, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.”
Speaking on the comments of Pakistan’s FM on normalizing relations with Israel, Mollazehi reiterated: “Saudi Arabia has announced its readiness to invest USD 20BN in Pakistan. This will be spent in Gwadar Port and the petrochemical industry and the contracts will likely be finalized during Ben Salman’s trip. From this angle, Pakistan is looking out for its interests with the Saudis. Riyadh is also leading the policy of replacing Israel with Iran as the main enemy of the Arabs. This may lead to events contrary to Iran’s interests.”
On the comments made by IRGC Commander to take revenge on terrorists operating in Iran’s southeastern borders, Mollazehi said: “These border incidents can be a trap to engage Tehran and Islamabad. It is highly unlikely that the Supreme Leader and President will give permission for such action by the IRGC. The facts are that Pakistan is not Iraq and missile attacks cannot be launched on terrorists based there. If Iran takes such a measure, it will be confronted with the Pakistani army in an uncontrollable war. They must not resort to emotional reactions.”
He added: “If Pakistan supports anti-Iranian groups, naturally there are anti-Pakistani groups which can be supported by Iran in return. Iran can also pursue a dual policy like Pakistan does. Talks must be conducted with authorities in Islamabad and convince them to invest in common borders; because, in Islamabad’s view, their borders with Iran are safe and so long as there is unrest on their borders with India and Afghanistan, they will not invest in these two areas.
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