Islamabad: The Pakistan Air Force conducted retaliatory airstrikes on Thursday, targeting alleged Baloch separatist camps within Iranian territory, as reported by various media outlets. The strikes were purportedly aimed at hideouts housing Baloch militants wanted by Pakistan.
This military response followed Tehran's assertion of utilizing "precision missile and drone strikes" a day earlier, claiming to have destroyed two significant headquarters of Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) in Pakistan. Pakistan swiftly denounced the violation of its sovereignty as "completely unacceptable," issuing a stern warning of serious consequences.
Salman Masood, Editor of a local Pakistani daily and correspondent for The New York Times, reported on Wednesday that the Pakistan Air Force had carried out airstrikes on Baloch separatist camps inside Iran. This action was in direct response to Iran's claim of targeting militants within Pakistani territory—a claim rejected by Pakistan, which cited civilian casualties.
Simultaneously, another Pakistani local daily reported that hideouts of Baloch militants wanted by Pakistan had indeed been targeted in Iran.
Pakistan's caretaker Foreign Minister, Jalil Abbas Jilani, emphasized in a phone call with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, that Iran's January 16 attack inside Pakistani territory constituted a serious breach of sovereignty, violating international law and straining bilateral relations. Jilani condemned the incident, stating that it had caused significant damage to the ties between the two nations.
At the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul-Haq Kakar met with Iran's Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. This meeting coincided with Iran's announcement of targeting Jaish Al Adl bases inside Pakistan through drone and missile strikes.
Jaish al-Adl, labeled a "terrorist" organization by Iran, has been active since 2012, operating as a Sunni terrorist group in Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan. Notably, the group claimed responsibility for a December attack on a police station in Sistan-Balochistan, resulting in the deaths of at least 11 police personnel.
The recent attacks on Pakistan occurred in the wake of Iran's missile launches in northern Iraq and Syria on Monday. Iran's foreign ministry defended the strikes, characterizing them as a "precise and targeted" operation to counter security threats. Iranian spokesperson Nasser Kanaani emphasized the use of ballistic missiles to identify and strike the "headquarters of criminals" in Idlib, Syria, and an alleged "Mossad-affiliated center" in Erbil, Iraq.
—Input from Agencies