Pakistan has hit back at Iran in retaliation for Iranian missile strikes in its Baluchistan province.
The airstrikes carried out by Pakistan, penetrating approximately 50 kilometres into Iran's Sistan-Balochistan province in the southeast, targeted seven camps accommodating militants from the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Liberation Front (BLF).
As reported by the Iranian media agency Mehrnews, these strikes occurred in the early hours of Thursday (18 January) in the city of Saravan in Sistan-Balochistan province, resulting in the death of seven individuals, including three women and four children.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry released a statement confirming it had carried out a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in Iran.
The retaliatory attack came just a day after (on 16 January) Iran struck two locations of the terror group Jaish al-Adl in the Panjgur district of Pakistan's restive Balochistan province.
These strikes could exacerbate the already volatile situation in the sub-continent and West Asia, especially in light of the Iranian-supported Yemeni Houthi militia's attacks on merchant traffic passing through the Red Sea, and Israeli assaults against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Given Pakistan's current economic and political turmoil, with the highly popular ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan in jail, and the Pakistani army seemingly managing the elections to help ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party win the general elections scheduled for 8 February, the prompt nature of the retaliatory strikes was somewhat unexpected.
Although the Pakistani attacks appear reactionary, aimed at satisfying the domestic population, these strikes could very well force Iran's hand. Iran has already become quite emboldened, using its proxies to cause mayhem in the Red Sea and against Israel in the Gaza Strip.
This could lead to further escalation in a region already beset by conflicts.
The press release of Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that it respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran and that the sole objective of the strike was in pursuit of its own national security.
The press release added that Iran was a brotherly country and the people of Pakistan have great respect for Iran, suggesting that dialogue and cooperation are the only solutions.
These two statements, when read together, hint at Pakistan's intention to avoid escalating the conflict further. All eyes are now on Iran.
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!