Sunday, March 24, 2019 | ePaper
Iran demands Pakistan acts 'decisively against terrorists'
AFP, Tehran :
Hassan Rouhani's remarks came in a telephone conversation with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan..
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has demanded Pakistan act "decisively against anti-Iranian terrorists" in a phone call with the country's premier, Tehran said, a month after a bloody attack on security forces.
Iran says a Pakistani suicide bomber was behind the February 13 attack that killed 27 Revolutionary Guards in its volatile southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.
A Sunni jihadist group, Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), which Tehran says operates mostly out of bases in neighbouring Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the blast.
Iran has accused Pakistan's army and intelligence agency of sheltering the jihadists and summoned the country's ambassador in the wake of the attack.
Rouhani in the phone conversation Saturday evening with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called to maintain good ties and pointed the finger of blame at Tehran's traditional regional and international foes.
"We shouldn't allow decades of friendship and brotherhood between the two countries be affected by terrorist groupuscules that we both know from where they are being armed and financed," Rouhani said, according to a government statement.
The Iranian president was alluding to the United States and Israel, as well as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which it accuses of aiding jihadist groups responsible for attacks from Pakistani soil.
February's bombing was the latest of numerous attacks on Iran's security forces and officials in Sistan-Baluchistan, where the minority Sunni Baluchis accuse the authorities of discrimination.
Iran's state news agency IRNA said Rouhani's remarks came in a telephone conversation with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who said he would soon have "good news" for Iran, according to the agency.
A suicide bomber killed 27 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards in mid-February in a southeastern region where security forces are facing a rise in attacks by militants from the country's Sunni Muslim minority.
The Sunni group Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for the ethnic minority Baluchis, claimed responsibility for the attack.
"We are awaiting your decisive operations against these terrorists," IRNA quoted Rouhani as telling Khan.
"We should not allow decades of friendship and fraternity between the two countries to be affected by the actions of small terrorist groups, the source of whose financing and arms is known to both of us," Rouhani said.
Iran has blamed its regional rival Saudi Arabia and arch-enemies Israel and the United States for the attack and other cross-border raids, an accusation rejected by the countries.
"It is in Pakistan's own interest not to allow our territory to be used by terrorist groups, and the Pakistani army is prepared to confront the terrorists more decisively with the information provided by Iran," IRNA quoted Khan as saying.