Pakistan warns of state's 'full might' if 'sacrosanct' territorial integrity violated

Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar (centre) chairs a meeting of the National Security Committee on January 19, 2024. — PM’s Office
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar (centre) chairs a meeting of the National Security Committee on January 19, 2024. — PM’s Office

  • NSC says the safety and security of every Pakistani is crucial.
  • PM wants relations with Iran to be like they were pre-Jan 16.
  • Iran carried out air strikes in Pakistan, claiming to kill "terrorists".

ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee (NSC) has reiterated its resolve that the state would respond with its "full might" if Pakistan's territorial integrity is violated under any circumstances, after Iran launched "unprovoked" air strikes in Balochistan's remote area, killing two children.

Iran carried out a missile and drone attack on what it called "terrorist" targets in Pakistan on Tuesday night, with Pakistan in turn striking militant targets inside Iran on Thursday.

Following the attacks, caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, agreed to hostilities between the two sides, with Jilani expressing Pakistan's "readiness to work with Iran on all issues".

Pakistan has recalled its ambassador from Tehran and said Iran's envoy — on a visit home — has been expelled. However, with the ties on track, they are expected to return to their duties soon.

The United Nations, the United States, Russia, the European Union, and other global players had appealed to both sides for restraint, while China had offered to mediate.

In the meeting, the NSC — the country's apex civil-military body — undertook a wholesome review of the situation and lauded the professional, calibrated, and proportionate response by the armed forces against unprovoked and unlawful violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.

As per a statement from the Prime Minister's Office, during the meeting, the participants were briefed about political and diplomatic developments bearing upon the prevailing situation between Pakistan and Iran and its impact on the overall security milieu in the region.

The meeting was attended by caretaker ministers, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Chief of the Army Staff General Asim Munir, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Naveed Ashraf, and Chief of Air Staff Marshal Zaheer Ahmad Babar as well as heads of intelligence agencies.

Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar

The forum also took stock of ‘Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar’, which was “successfully” executed against Pakistani-originated Baloch terrorists residing in the ungoverned spaces inside Iran.

“An update on the situation along the borders and necessary full preparations done to comprehensively respond to any further violation of national sovereignty was also deliberated about.”

Security and safety of the people of Pakistan are of paramount importance. — NSC

The forum reiterated the unflinching resolve that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan is inviolable and sacrosanct and any attempt by anyone to breach it on any pretext will be responded to with full might of the state, the statement mentioned.

“The meeting reaffirmed that the security and safety of the people of Pakistan are of paramount importance and no stone will be left unturned to ensure it,” the handout read.

The forum expressed that as Iran is a neighbourly and brotherly Muslim country, existing multiple communication channels between the two countries should be mutually utilised to address each other’s security concerns in the larger interest of regional peace and stability. 

The forum, moreover, highlighted that Pakistan has suffered far more than any other country due to this scourge of terrorism.

“The meeting concluded that in line with the universal principles governing the conduct of good neighbourly relations, the two countries would mutually be able to overcome minor irritants through dialogue and diplomacy and pave the way to further deepen their historic relations.”

PM for restoring ties

Later, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefed the caretaker federal cabinet about the situation arising from the Iranian attack on Pakistan, a separate statement from the PM’s Office read.

In a meeting of the federal cabinet held under the chairmanship of caretaker PM Kakar, the details of the attack, as well as Pakistan’s response, were shared.

The cabinet lauded the high professionalism with which the armed forces responded to the breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty and how the entire government machinery worked in unison in this regard.

Addressing the federal cabinet, the prime minister affirmed that Pakistan was a law-abiding and peace-loving country and it sought friendly and cooperative relations with all countries, particularly its neighbours.

The prime minister said that Pakistan and Iran are two brotherly countries that have historically enjoyed fraternal and cooperative relations marked by respect and affection. He said that it was in the interest of both countries to take steps to restore the relationship to what it was prior to January 16.

The prime minister said that, in this regard, Pakistan would welcome and reciprocate all positive measures from the Iranian side.