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Pakistan Army seeks Iran's assistance in dealing with militants after six soldiers killed in Balochistan

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Pakistan Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday sought Iran's cooperation in dealing with Baloch militants allegedly operating from its soil.

General Bajwa called Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri against the backdrop of last Friday's attack on a Frontier Corps patrol in Balochistan's Kech district in which six troops, including Major Nadeem Bhatti, were killed.

Iranian official newswire Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that the two generals discussed military developments, security of borders and the coronavirus crisis.

General Bajwa, IRNA reported, "urged the exchange of expert delegations to maintain border security and prevent terrorist moves on common borders". He also informed the Iranian commander about the measures being taken by the Pakistan government to prevent unauthorized cross-border movement.

Pakistan and Iran share over 900km-long border, which is infested with militants and drug traffickers. Terrorist groups operating along the border have in the past carried out several attacks. Therefore, border security has for long remained a major irritant in bilateral ties.

According to the daily Dawn, the two neighbors have over the past few years cooperated extensively in improving border security by undertaking several measures, including deployment of additional troops.

Friday's attack in Balochistan province took place as the troops, who were assigned to search for smuggling routes and militants, were returning to their camp from a mountainous area near the border with Iran.

The banned Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility of the attack. In a statement quoted by Indian media the BLA said one army vehicle was destroyed in the Friday attack when the bomb installed by its members went off near the convoy.

The statement claimed the army major killed in the attack had recently led operations against local residents. The group said it will "continue its struggle until the establishment of an independent homeland and a free society."

The Baloch Liberation Army has been operating in the province for the past several years. It usually targets security forces and authorities have said it has the support of foreign intelligence agencies.

Balochistan, Pakistan's largest and least populated province, will see a number of new roads and a port constructed under the $56 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an infrastructure and energy corridor that sees southwestern China linked to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan.

The BLA and other armed Baloch separatist groups have frequently targeted Chinese personnel since the launch of CPEC, terming the project an "imperialist" endeavor.

In July 2019, the United States designated the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a terrorist organisation, for carrying out several attacks in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan.

The outfit has carried out several terrorist attacks in the past year, including a suicide attack in August 2018 that targeted Chinese engineers in Balochistan, a November 2018 attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, and a May 2019 attack against a luxury hotel in Gwadar, Balochistan, the Department of State statement said.

Indian Connection

It is a common knowledge that the Baloch separatists receive funds from India for carrying out subversive activities in Pakistan.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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