Iran has asked Pakistan to act against a terror group accused of carrying out the recent suicide bombing in the Iranian city of Chabahar that killed 36 people,an incident which has caused fresh strain in ties between the two countries.
Iranian Ambassador Mashallah Shakeri yesterday handed over a communique to Interior Minister Rehman Malik demanding Pakistan’s cooperation in investigating the Chabahar suicide bombing that had also left over 100 people injured.
The attack on a Shia procession on December 15 was claimed by the Sunni militant group Jundallah (Army of God). Iran has often alleged that Jundullah operatives are based and trained in Pakistan.
Iranian authorities said they had caught one of the bomber’s accomplices at the border,apparently trying to slip back into Pakistan.
Malik assured the Iranian envoy that Pakistan would extend all help for the probe.
An investigation team would be sent to Iran if the need arises and Pakistan will never allow anyone to use its soil for terrorist activities directed against another country,he said.
Diplomatic sources said Pakistan and Iran had agreed to a meeting of their Interior Ministers in Istanbul on the sidelines of an Economic Cooperation Organisation meeting next week.
The suicide bombing had brought “uneasy Pakistan-Iran ties under fresh strains,” the Dawn newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying.
Tehran has told Islamabad that it needed more than “just verbal commitments for action against the terrorist outfit Jundallah,” the daily reported.
Iran accuses Pakistan of “being indifferent towards revival of a key bilateral security cooperation forum,which last met three years ago even though it was to convene after every six months,” the report said.
“The security commission,which has met only thrice,should be active,” an Iranian official told Dawn.
In an indication that the commission’s reactivation is being blocked by Pakistanis,the Iranian official was quoted as saying: “We (Iranians) are ready for the meeting.”
Iranians perceive the commission as “very important” for exchanging intelligence related to terrorism.
After his meeting with Interior Minister Malik,Iranian Ambassador Shakeri told the media of the need for “proactive cooperation” against terrorism.
“There are certain porous points along the Pakistan-Iran border that are being exploited by terrorists. We need to work together to close those points,” he said.
Though Pakistan and Iran have signed several accords for enhancing border security cooperation and exchanging information on security issues,nothing significant has materialised as yet.
Since the Chabahar bombing,several Iranian leaders have criticised Pakistan for its failure to end Jundallah sanctuaries on its territory and prevent cross-border movements of the group’s activists.
Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar has alleged that the terrorists are trained in Pakistan.
The Foreign Office,in a statement issued last week to condemn the Chabahar attack,expressed Pakistan’s “resolve and commitment to continue to cooperate closely with Iran to defeat the menace of terrorism.”
The statement also described the perpetrators of the attack as “common enemies” of both countries.