Pakistan and Iran aim to boost their bilateral border cooperation in order to combat militant groups.
At a three-day meeting in Zahedan, Iran, officials from Pakistan and Iran agreed to a memorandum of understanding on improving border security, with a goal of preventing militant infiltration as well as the trafficking of fuel, drugs, and people.
The issue has become particularly important in recent years as both countries have faced cross-border attacks. In October 2018, militants abducted at least a dozen Iranian border guards from a post in Mirjaveh County, adjacent to Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Pakistan-based Jaish ul-Adl carried out the abduction.
Five of the Iranian border guards were released in November after dialogue between Iran and Pakistan on the matter. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had traveled to Islamabad to meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in late October to discuss the matter.
Over this past weekend, Pakistani Frontier Corps personnel were ambushed by what officials say was as many as 30 militants in Kech District, near the border with Iran. Six Frontier Corps troops were killed in the attack and another 14 were wounded. The Pakistani Foreign Office summoned Iran’s Ambassador to Pakistan to complain about the attack. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, condemned the ambush and asserted that Iran was prepared to conduct joint operations with Pakistan to prevent further incidents.
It remains to be seen whether the bilateral dialogue will actually lead to increased cooperation on border matters, as the two sides have both regularly stated their willingness to improve coordination, but without much in the way of results.