In the immediate aftermath of the kidnappings, the Iranian government
expressed indignation at the Pakistan government for its failure to do more to
curb the tide of Sunni Islamists in the country. Iranian Interior
Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli went so far as to threaten to send
Iranian troops into Pakistan to secure the border guards’ release.
This prompted Islamabad to respond by saying, “Iranian forces have no
authority to cross our borders in violation of the international law. We must
respect each other’s borders.” It also added, “The government of Pakistan
regrets the suggestions of negligence on its part over the incident, especially
when Pakistan’s active support against terrorists groups in the past is
well-known and acknowledged by Iran.”
A more serious flashpoint between Pakistan and Iran is taking place farther
away in Syria. Specifically, numerous media outlets and private intelligence
firms have confirmed that recent Pakistani-Saudi Arabian defense cooperation
meetings have been aimed at reaching an agreement whereby Riyadh would purchase
military arms from Islamabad for Syrian opposition forces. According
to the reports, Saudi funds will be used to purchase Chinese
shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles—among other
weapons—that will be smuggled into Syria via Jordan.
Such a deal would place Pakistan and Iran closer to direct confrontation as
Iranian troops and their Hezbollah allies have long been operating in Syria in
an effort to shore up the Bashar al-Assad government. Should Pakistani supplied
arms bring down an Iranian transport plane, for example, Tehran would be hard
pressed not to retaliate against Pakistan in some fashion.