Pakistan, Iran agree to expand security cooperation after missile strikes

Pakistan and Iran acknowledged that they respected each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and would expand security cooperation, bidding to mend ties after tit-for-tat missile strikes at what they said were militant targets.

Foreign ministers of the two countries held talks in the Pakistani capital days after their military moves earlier in January raised concerns about wider instability in the region since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted on Oct. 7.

Pakistan’s caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, speaking at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said the neighbours had several strong channels of communication with each other.

“All these channels were operational and we were able to bring whatever issue or misunderstanding that had been created between our two countries, we were able to resolve it fairly quickly,” he said.

The two neighbouring Muslim nations have had a history of rocky relations, but the missile strikes were the most serious incidents in years.

The two countries agreed to fight terrorism in their respective areas and establish a system of consultations at the level of the foreign ministers to oversee progress across sectors, Jilani said.

Abdollahian said the two countries had a good understanding, and that there have never been territorial differences or wars between Iran and Pakistan.

“We consider Pakistan’s security, a brotherly, friendly and neighbourly country of Iran, as the security of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the security of the whole region,” Abdollahian said.

“Through joint cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad, we will not let terrorists endanger and threaten the security of the two nations,” he said, adding that Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi would soon visit Pakistan.

Relations between the two countries had soured after the missile strikes, with Pakistan recalling its ambassador to Tehran and not allowing his counterpart to return to Islamabad, as well as cancelling all high-level diplomatic and trade engagements.

But efforts were swiftly made to lower the temperature, with the envoys asked to return to their posts and Abdollahian invited for talks.

Islamabad said it hit bases of the separatist Baloch Liberation Front and Baloch Liberation Army, while Tehran said it struck militants from the Jaish al Adl (JAA) group.

The militant groups operate in an area that includes Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan and Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan.

Both regions are restive, mineral-rich and largely underdeveloped.