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After India, Iran learnt a bitter lesson

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Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
The Pakistani Armed Forces, renowned for their professionalism and tactical expertise, executed Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar (translated as “Death to Fighters”) with remarkable precision and effectiveness. This operation, a direct response to Iran’s intrusion, showcased their strategic prowess through a meticulously planned and executed strike, approximately 80 kilometers inside Iranian territory. Utilizing advanced military technology, including killer missiles, loitering ammunition, and standoff mortars, the operation targeted and successfully neutralized hideouts of the Baloch terrorist outfits BLA and BLF.

This carefully calibrated retaliation, far from being an act of aggression, was a necessary measure of self-defense. The operation’s flawless execution, coupled with its strategic restraint, underscores Pakistan’s position as a responsible military power, fully capable of defending its national interests while adhering to international norms and standards of warfare. This decisive action sent a strong message about Pakistan’s ability to respond to threats with precision and professionalism, cementing its status as a formidable force in the region.

In total disbelief, the unprovoked and aggressive action by Iran was perceived in Islamabad and across Pakistan as a profound betrayal and deceit by a nation long regarded as a close ally sparked a deep-seated anguish among the Pakistani armed forces, government, and citizens alike. It was not just the act itself but the sense of treachery from a country considered a brotherly friend that intensified the emotional response. The people of Pakistan felt an acute sense of being backstabbed, not by a known adversary like India, but by a nation with whom they shared a bond of brotherhood and solidarity. This event has not only caused a strategic reevaluation in Islamabad but has also left an indelible mark on the collective psyche of the Pakistani nation, reshaping perceptions and potentially altering the course of regional alliances and diplomatic relations.

Perhaps soon after the attacks, Iran realized that it has committed a strategic and tactical mistake by equating Syria and Iraq with Pakistan in terms of military retaliation capabilities, especially considering Pakistan’s status as a nuclear-armed nation with highly trained armed forces. It realized that while Syria and Iraq due to various internal and external factors, were not in a position to respond with equivalent military might, Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state with a well-trained and equipped military, presents a vastly different scenario. The capacity for significant military response from Pakistan is considerably higher, making any aggressive action towards it riskier.

Pakistan’s status as a nuclear power adds a critical dimension to its defense capabilities. The nuclear deterrent is a significant factor that any adversary must consider before engaging in military actions against Pakistan. Nuclear capabilities are not just about the potential use of nuclear weapons, but they also serve as a strategic deterrent in international relations, signaling severe consequences in the event of escalated conflicts.

This incident resurrected the memories of India’s similar incursions in the past and the stern lesson it learned from Pakistan’s decisive and skillful retaliation. It seemed as though Iran had overlooked or disregarded the clear message Pakistan had sent in the past about its military capabilities and resolve to defend its sovereignty.

In 2019, Pakistan’s response to India’s Balakot airstrike was a masterclass in military strategy and diplomatic tact. Swiftly intercepting an Indian aircraft and capturing its pilot, Pakistan turned a potential escalation point into a diplomatic opportunity. The release of the Indian pilot was a calculated gesture of de-escalation, earning global acclaim for Pakistan’s commitment to restraint and peace. This move significantly bolstered Pakistan’s international standing, projecting it as a nation prioritizing stability and diplomatic engagement over extended conflict, especially crucial given the nuclear capabilities of both countries.

In stark contrast, the recent tensions with Iran, sparked by Iranian missile strikes resulting in civilian casualties in Pakistan, prompted a different kind of response. Pakistan’s military retaliation, precisely targeting militants within Iran’s borders, demonstrated assertiveness while carefully avoiding a broader military engagement. This situation diverges from the 2019 scenario with India, reflecting a more intricate and evolving diplomatic challenge.

These two episodes collectively highlight Pakistan’s sage approach to regional challenges. The nation has shown its capacity to blend decisive military action with diplomatic sensibility effectively. The response to India in 2019 displayed Pakistan’s adeptness in conflict resolution and peacekeeping. Conversely, the current situation with Iran tests Pakistan’s ability to navigate ongoing regional disputes, maintaining a balance between self-defense and a commitment to regional and international peace. These instances underscore Pakistan’s role as a key player in a volatile regional landscape, capable of managing complex international relations while steadfastly upholding its national security and sovereignty.

Amidst the already tumultuous landscape of the Middle East, where Israel conducts airstrikes in Gaza and the West Bank, and Hezbollah faces off in Lebanon, the region is a tinderbox of conflict and human suffering. The United States’ operations against the Houthi tribe in Yemen, aimed at ensuring the Red Sea’s strategic trade route remains open, add another layer to this complex scenario. In such a volatile environment, Iran’s decision to launch attacks on three Muslim countries is not only ill-timed but also exacerbates the region’s instability.

This period is especially harrowing for civilians caught in the crossfire. Daily, innocent lives are lost as collateral damage in the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, while many more suffer the brutalities of winter without adequate food or shelter. It’s a time when leadership and unity among Muslim nations are more critical than ever. Instead of opening new battlefronts, exacerbating existing conflicts, and adding to the regional turmoil, this moment calls for a concerted effort towards de-escalation and peace.

Iran, with its significant influence in the region, had the opportunity to exercise leadership by working alongside other Muslim countries to douse the flames of conflict. Such actions could have fostered a much-needed sense of unity and purpose among nations already burdened by war and strife. In these pressing times, the focus should be on humanitarian assistance, diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts, and steps towards lasting peace, rather than engaging in actions that further ignite the volatile landscape of the Middle East.

In the wake of the highly charged and volatile episode between Iran and Pakistan, it is imperative that both nations exercise prudence and seek a path towards de-escalation. The hope is that this unfortunate incident will soon be relegated to the background, paving the way for the restoration of normal diplomatic channels.

It is crucial for Iran and Pakistan to collaboratively develop a robust, credible strategy to dismantle safe havens for militants within their borders. This approach should be transparent, verifiable, and based on mutual trust and cooperation.

To effectively counter the menace of terrorism, both nations must engage in regular, in-depth dialogues at various levels, particularly among intelligence agencies and military units. These discussions should aim to foster understanding, share critical information, and coordinate efforts more efficiently. Additionally, conducting joint and coordinated operations along the border regions could prove instrumental in uprooting the entrenched terrorist networks that threaten the security and stability of both countries.

Such collaborative efforts would not only signify a commitment to combating terrorism but also demonstrate a shared dedication to regional peace and security. By joining forces, Iran and Pakistan can set a powerful example of how cooperation and strategic partnership can overcome challenges and contribute to a safer, more stable region. The urgency of re-establishing a constructive and cooperative relationship between these two nations cannot be overstated, especially in a region that has long been plagued by conflict and instability.

The leadership of both countries should recognize that their people aspire not for war and conflict, but for growth, development, and peace. The path to a prosperous future lies in creating conditions that enable citizens to lead happy and contented lives. This can only be achieved by avoiding war and channeling resources towards the betterment of their nations.

Iran and Pakistan have the opportunity to exemplify how countries can contribute positively to regional peace, emphasizing diplomatic engagement over military confrontation. Such efforts would not only benefit their own citizens but also set a precedent for conflict resolution and humanitarian consideration in international relations.

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