Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pakistan Pledges to Destroy Any Terrorist Camps on Iran Border by Paul Tighe and Ladane Nasseri

Pakistan will destroy any terrorist training camps found near the border with Iran and will work with its neighbor to fight extremists, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.

The minister said an Iranian delegation will visit Islamabad soon to discuss a suicide bomb attack in Iran’s Sistan- Baluchistan province three days ago that killed 42 people. Iran blamed the Pakistan-based Jundallah, or “Army of God,” for the attack and called on Pakistan to take action against the group.

Pakistan won’t allow its territory to be used for terrorist attacks against its neighbors, the official Associated Press of Pakistan cited Qureshi as saying yesterday. The nation has come out of a “state of denial” and is supporting the government’s war on terrorism.

The government in Islamabad is trying to avoid tensions with Iran as it battles Taliban fighters in the northwestern tribal region near the frontier with Afghanistan. India last November halted five years of peace talks with Pakistan after blaming a Pakistan-based group for attacks last year in Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Terrorism is a regional problem that requires cooperation between all the neighboring countries, Qureshi said, according to APP. The authorities in Pakistan have handed wanted terrorists to Iran in the past, he added.

Pakistan shares a 909 kilometer (565 mile) border with Iran, a 2,430-kilometer border with Afghanistan and a 2,912 kilometer frontier with India.

Revolutionary Guards

Commanders of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps were among the victims of the attack in Sistan-Baluchistan. The corps is responsible for security in the Sunni Muslim-dominated province that borders Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Iran’s population of more than 66 million is 89 percent Shiite Muslim, while 75 percent of Pakistan’s 176 million people are Sunni Muslims.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Pakistan’s envoy in Tehran on Oct. 18 to protest the terrorists’ use of Pakistani territory to organize attacks against Iran, state-run Press TV reported at the time.

Pakistan’s government should arrest the terrorists behind the attack or allow Iranian forces to pursue them, General Mohammed Pakpour, the chief of the Revolutionary Guards ground forces said yesterday.

“Abdolmalek Rigi, the head of the terrorist group, is no doubt in Pakistan and members are being trained there by certain oppressive countries like the U.S. and the U.K.,” the general said, according to the official Fars news agency.

The U.S. and the U.K. governments have condemned the attack and rejected allegations that they are involved.

In May, at least 21 people were killed and almost 200 were injured when militants bombed a mosque in Zahedan in the province. Jundallah said it carried out that attack and also took responsibility for the February 2007 bombing of a bus in Zahedan that killed 11 civilian employees of the Revolutionary Guards.

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