Balochistan strikes explained: Resources and radicalization

Risk of further escalation?

Tehran and Islamabad have long accused each other of not taking strict enough action against the separatist Balochs in their own country. The Iranian attack was likely in retaliation for a January 3 bombing that killed 80 in the southern Iranian city of Kerman. Tehran may have also wanted to signal strength and deterrence to Israel and the United States as the conflict in the Middle East grows. Tehran had also previously fired missiles at targets in Syria and northern Iraq.

Islamabad also could not leave an Iranian attack unanswered, though their version was relatively restrained. Its air strikes on Iranian soil did not target Iranian facilities or security forces, but Pakistani citizens. While the Pakistani army claims that terrorists were involved, civilians are also said to have been among the dead.

Relations between Islamabad and Tehran are tense, but given each of their current concerns, escalating the conflict would unlikely be in their interest. Iran is already involved in the Middle East conflict, supporting the anti-Israeli terrorist militias of Hamas, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.

Pakistan has elections scheduled in three weeks, with the current government in power only on an interim basis. In terms of foreign policy, the country is at loggerheads with its arch-rival India, meanwhile relations with Afghanistan have also been strained since the government deported hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees a few weeks ago.

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