Govt mulls crackdown on banned Baloch rebel outfit
ISLAMABAD IN order to earn the confidence of Iran, Pakistan has decided to launch an operation against a banned militant organisation in Balochistan.
Pakistan and Iran have important economic ties and also co-operated in suppressing Baloch national movements in the past, that is why Pakistan does not afford annoying its strong neighbour. Reportedly, Iranian’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pressed the Pakistani authorities to take action against Jundullah, and the Pakistan authorities assured the visiting president that Pakistan would not allow any group to use its territory to launch terrorism against neighbouring countries.
Jundullah was founded in 2002 to defend the Baloch minority in the poor, remote and lawless region of southeast Iran. Nowadays, it is believed a number of Jundullah activists are based in Balochistan and are active in the Baloch areas of Iran and Pakistan.
The Iranian government has accused the Jundullah group of carrying out a series of attacks in Iran, including a suicide bombing on October 18, 2009, which killed six commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. In addition to this, Iran continued to hold Pakistan responsible for covertly aiding Jundullah until the arrest of the then group head, Abdolmalek Rigi, on February 23, 2010, by Iranian authorities on a tip-off of Pakistan’s spy agency when Rigi was flying from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan.
Rigi was prosecuted and hanged by Tehran on June 20, 2010. According to reports, during the trial, Rigi accepted being funded and trained by US, which helped in reducing tension between both neighbouring countries.
Various media reports also supported Rigi’s confession that the CIA had been involved in supporting Jundullah and using it not only to destabilise Iran but also affect the cordial ties between Iran and Pakistan.
Islamabad’s decision to start operation against Jundullah looks another example of its foreign policy shift after the decision of resuming Pak-Iran gas pipeline project despite tremendous pressure from the United States.
On the other hand, Washington had been pushing Islamabad to carry out a military operation against the Haqqani group but Pakistan was reluctant to launch the operation.
Pakistan replied that military assault on Haqqani hideouts would quickly engulf the entire tribal region in a war that the Pakistan Army could not win. Later, Washington started pressing Islamabad to force Afghanistan-based insurgent groups to join peace talks. The fresh decision of wiping out Jundullah suggests that Pakistan has decided to take its on course in the larger interest.