Iran turned up the heat on Pakistan on Tuesday, saying the group accused of carrying out a suicide bombing that killed top commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards is based on its territory.
Islamabad strongly denied the allegations, saying the attack was an attempt to “spoil ties” with Iran.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said members of the group accused of mounting Sunday’s attack in southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province regularly criss-cross the frontier with Pakistan. [continued…]
According to a Tehran University political science author who wishes to remain anonymous, the Pishin attackers had multiple objectives. “First, they wanted to prevent a crucial unity meeting between Shi’ites and Sunnis in Sistan-Balochistan. Second, they wanted to exacerbate tension between the central government and the Balochi minority. Third, they wanted to cause new tensions between Iran and Pakistan, whose government is backed by the US and Saudi Arabia. Fourth, they timed their attacks with the critical nuclear meeting in Vienna to thwart any agreement on Iran’s proposal for nuclear fuel for the reactor in Tehran.”
There is a widespread belief in Tehran that the Pishin attack, especially as it claimed the lives of five IRGC commanders, could not possibly have taken place without the knowledge, and perhaps complicity, of Western and/or Israeli intelligence.
This sentiment is apparently shared by Russia, in light of the quick response by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who sent his condolences together with a firm message that Russia was prepared to cooperate with Iran against terrorism. This was in sharp contrast to the silence of US President Barack Obama.
“Iran is now baited into security tensions with nuclear-armed Pakistan and that simply strengthens the hands of the hardliners in Iran who believe that Iran needs a nuclear shield,” the same Tehran professor told the author. [continued…]
Approximately 2,000 strong, Jundallah claims to represent the Sunni Balochi struggle against the centralizing power of Tehran. Nonsense: pan-Balochi aspirations actually are better represented by other Balochi nationalist groups, such as the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) in Pakistan. Jundallah for its part does not threaten Islamabad; it is an ultra-sectarian, anti-Shi’ite outfit immersed in the intolerant Deobandi interpretation of Islam.
Jundallah has its headquarters in Karachi and bases in both Balochistans. It does have a firm connection to the South Waziristan tribal areas; it has been connected to the hardcore Sunni and viscerally anti-Shi’ite Lashkar-e-Jhangvi; and is definitely tactically connected to al-Qaeda, “talking” if not to the historic leadership ensconced, in theory, in South Waziristan, at least to the “new generation” al-Qaeda.
It was Jundallah that, last December, perpetrated the first suicide bombing ever in Iran, after spending a few years basically practicing sabotage, kidnapping officials and killing border guards. In May, only three weeks before the Iranian presidential election, Jundallah raised the stakes with an attack on the top mosque in Zahedan, the largest city in the southern part of Sistan-Balochistan.
Islamabad – as always when it comes to anything regarding Balochistan – is perplexed. It never knew how to deal with Balochi separatist movements in the first place – apart from iron-clad repression. But as far as Jundallah is concerned, Islamabad did try, it handed over Rigi’s brother, Abdul Hamid, to Tehran, branding Jundallah as a “terrorist organization”, and always protesting its innocence of the outfit’s designs. [continued…]