In a recent escalation of tensions between Pakistan and Iran, both countries have carried out missile strikes on each other's territories. Pakistan claimed that its strikes targeted "terrorist hideouts" in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province, while Iran condemned the attack and stated that the victims were not Iranian nationals. Iran has called on Pakistan to prevent the establishment of "bases and armed terrorist groups" on its soil. These reciprocal attacks come at a time when tensions are high in the Middle East, with conflicts involving Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, and various Iran-backed groups in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
Pakistan's strikes on Iran mark the first external land attack on the country since the 1980s. The strikes were conducted with drones, rockets, and long-range missiles and targeted the Balochistan Liberation Army and the Balochistan Liberation Front, both of which have been involved in a long-standing struggle for autonomy in Balochistan, a region in southwestern Pakistan. Pakistan had strongly condemned Iran's earlier strike on its territory, which killed two children. Pakistan's former foreign minister expressed surprise at the attack, as Iran's foreign minister had met with Pakistan's acting prime minister on the same day.
Both China and Turkey, as well as the Taliban government in Afghanistan, have called for restraint and dialogue between Pakistan and Iran. The two countries have complicated but cordial relations, with concerns about the lawless border area where drug smugglers and militant Baloch groups operate. While the risk of escalation exists, some experts believe that Pakistan's retaliation provides an opportunity to step back from the brink and restore deterrence. Others suggest that Pakistan's response was driven by domestic pressure, as the country is holding an election next month.
It is unclear whether Iran's recent strikes on Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan are directly related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Some commentators argue that Iran is flexing its muscles in response to what it perceives as a grievous assault on its country, specifically referring to a deadly bomb attack in Kerman earlier this month. This recent escalation in tensions marks a serious development in border tensions between Pakistan and Iran, but it is not the first time such tensions have occurred in the region.