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Pakistan-Iran crisis: Experts, intellectuals express caution with hope for de-escalation

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NewsDrum Desk
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Islamabad, Jan 18 (PTI) Former diplomats, intellectuals and international relations experts on Thursday said that Pakistan and Iran should put behind the bitter phase and move forward as escalation is not good for them and the region, hours after nine persons were killed in Islamabad's counter-strike in the neighbouring country.

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This was the crux of the interviews and comments of experts while talking to the PTI or expressing their views on various media outlets in the wake of Pakistan's "precision military strikes" against what it called "terrorist hideouts" in Iran's Siestan-Balochistan province in the wee hours on Thursday.

The attack was seen as retaliation to Iranian missile and drone attacks on Tuesday which targeted two bases of the Sunni Baloch militant group 'Jaish al-Adl' in Pakistan's unruly Balochistan province.

Renowned defence analyst Brigadier (Retd.) Mehmood Shah told PTI that Iran made a mistake by attacking Pakistan and it should have learnt the lesson.

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"There is little likelihood of any further escalation as Pakistan has established its military superiority over Iran by responding to the challenge in the shortest possible time and in a measured manner to hit the targets precisely," he said.

He said Iran, after carrying out similar strikes on Iraq and Syria, was emboldened and thought of getting away with an attack against Pakistan. “But it should have realized that Pakistan could not afford to sit back as it would have sent a wrong message to the world about its capability,” he said and accused Iran of acting in "an irresponsible way." Defence affairs expert Brig (Retd) Waqar Hassan told Geo News that Pakistan responded properly and in a cool way to the provocation, and the response was given in the shortest time which showed the readiness of Pakistani forces.

He also urged the two nations to move forward and avoid further escalation. “ "Pakistan and Iran need to move forward and this issue should end at this point. Iran would get more benefit if the situation is allowed to remain under control as it has been already under the scanner of the world,” he said.

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Another defence analyst Syed Muhammad Ali told Geo News that Pakistan avoided hitting the Iranian citizen or government installation. “This should be understood as a responsible and calibrated action. There is no need for further action. We should put behind the bitter chapter and move forward for development and peace,” he said.

Analyst Dr Hasan Askari said that Pakistan adopted a sensible approach to the provocation and the situation is expected to remain under control, Dunya News TV reported.

"I think that the issue of militancy should be addressed through diplomatic means,” he said, adding that China advised the two nations to show restraint because it has good ties with Pakistan and Iran and it would try to help address the tension through talks.

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Askari also said that Iran adopted the wrong method to address its concern regarding militancy and “its unilateral military action was linked with the situation in the Middle East.” He also urged the two sides to not let the situation get out of control.

Former foreign secretary of Pakistan Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said Islamabad acted “responsibly” and “has proved with this response that we don’t want to do it but we can do it," Geo News reported.

A “friendly” country does not attack their friends but long-term thinking is required, Chaudhry said and urged the highest authorities in Pakistan and Iran to “talk” and “settle this through bilateral communications and China’s help.” “Iran’s government has good relations with Pakistan so we should talk to them. [Pakistan’s] border situation is not okay with India and Afghanistan so I don’t think they [Pakistan] would want to open up [a conflict on] another border,” the former diplomat stated.

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Pakistan's former high commissioner to India Abdul Basit highlighted the need to find a diplomatic solution and said Pakistan cannot include Iran in the same “category” as India.

"We have partnered with them (Iran) a lot over our past. Pakistan and Iran have collaborated many times before. We should move towards de-escalation,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn.com.

In a post on X soon after the Pakistan Army came out with a statement related to the attack, former human rights minister Shireen Mazari described Pakistan's response as “swift and proportionate”.

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She applauded how the “full spectrum deterrence reasserted militarily - meeting the threat at a level of our choosing & prevailing,” but rued: “One of the many disturbing questions arising is why both supposedly friendly ‘brotherly’ Muslim countries, with deep historical & social ties, allowed space creation for these militant groups in each other's territories?” “Need for serious introspection by both states,” Mazari added.

Political analyst Mosharraf Zaidi warned of a “very dangerous and unpredictable situation”.

"For years, Iran has actively curated terrorists that target Pakistan — worst of all, Iran works with India to undermine Pakistani security. On the surface, Pakistan’s targeting of these groups is perfectly defensible,” Zaidi posted on X.

Pointing out that Pakistan’s stakes require the absence of war, he stated: “It is no accident that Pakistan’s negative economic trajectory is aligned chronologically with the regional instability it endures." Michael Kugelman, a scholar of South Asian affairs at the Wilson Center in Washington, called for a third-party mediation.

“Pakistan’s retaliation appears to have been proportionate to Iran’s earlier strike, and notably it targeted only militants and not Iranian security forces. With both sides even, so to speak, this provides an opening for de-escalation, if cooler heads prevail. But that’s a big if,” he posted on X. PTI SH/NPK ZH ZH

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