Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said that Pakistan expected both Iran and Afghanistan to take action against the terrorist groups behind the Ormara massacre.
While addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Qureshi said that the whole country was “angry and upset” over the incident and wanted to know why this incident had taken place and who was behind it.
At least 14 passengers were picked out with the help of their National Identity Cards (NICs), forcibly offloaded from their bus and then shot dead by unidentified assailants on the Makran Coastal Highway in Ormara, Balochistan early on Thursday.
Qureshi today confirmed that “BRA” — an alliance of a number of Baloch terrorist organisations — had come forward and claimed responsibility for this “ghastly event”.
He stated, “on the basis of verified information”, that the training and logistical camps of this new alliance were based inside Iran’s borders.
Qureshi added that following investigations and confirmation, this information has been shared with Iranian authorities.
He said that the location of the camps has also been identified.
The foreign minister said that Pakistan expects Iran to take action against these outfits. Additionally, he said that Pakistan also expects action to be taken by Afghanistan as the BRA’s presence and leadership has also been identified there.
Qureshi said that Islamabad expected Kabul to help the country with the same spirit that Pakistan was working towards establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan.
He shared that specific forensic evidence was available, which he said could be shared to trace these “criminals”.
“They’re criminals who have done this incident,” Qureshi reiterated.
The foreign minister shared that he had spoken to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, prior to the press conference and shared the sentiments of the Pakistani people as well as the expectations of the government.
According to Qureshi, Zarif too had condemned the incident and said that it was not just an attack on Pakistan. Additionally, he ensured Qureshi of his full cooperation and assured him that Iran would help Pakistan trace the terrorists.
Zarif added that with Prime Minister Imran Khan arriving in Iran tomorrow, there would be a chance for further conversations to discuss mechanisms that could further be put into place to avoid such incidents.
Prime Minister Imran is set to visit Iran for a two-day official visit starting tomorrow (Sunday) on the invitation of the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani.
While addressing the press conference, Qureshi shared six steps that have already been taken, keeping the sensitivity of the border in mind, in order to make it a “border of peace” and to ensure stability.
A new command has been formed to create ease in vigilance and prompt action. The command will be headquartered in Turbat and has been formed so that the border can be manned more effectively than previously.
A new Frontier Corps has been raised so that the border can be managed better than before.
Based on the consultations between Iran and Pakistan, Qureshi said that joint border centres are being established.
According to the foreign minister, it has been decided that the border with Iran will be fenced the way the Pak-Afghan border was being fenced. Qureshi added that the process has started and is being started from the most frequently exploited points.
Qureshi said that it was decided that border patrolling exercises would be synchronised.
Heli-surveillance would be done between the two countries to prevent further incidents.
Qureshi added that while speaking to Zarif, he had reiterated that whenever an incident took place in Iran and they had expectations from Pakistan, Pakistan did not disappoint.
“We also expect that our brother and friend will take visible action,” Qureshi said, adding that, as a result of such visible action, Pakistan will be successful in eliminating elements that have intentions of conducting terrorism in Pakistan.
A day earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif had publicly condemned the attack. In a post shared on Twitter, Zarif wrote: “Strongly condemning the recent terrorist attack in Pakistan, just as PM [Imran Khan] embarks on his first, historic visit to Iran.”
“Terrorists, extremists and their sponsors are terrified by close relations between Muslim states,” Zarif wrote, adding that Iran stands with the Pakistani people and government.
Pakistan lodges protest with Iran on ‘inaction’ against terrorist groups
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) earlier the same day lodged a strong protest with Iran regarding its inaction against terror groups believed to be involved in the Ormara massacre.
In a letter written to the Iranian embassy on Friday, the MoFA stated: “Killing of 14 innocent Pakistanis by terrorist groups based in Iran is a very serious incident that Pakistan protests strongly.”
As per a copy of the letter received by DawnNewsTV today, 15-20 terrorists camouflaged themselves in Frontier Corps (FC) uniform, barricaded the road and stopped 3-4 buses travelling from Ormara to Gwadar on the coastal highway at Buzi Top before dawn on April 18. On the identification of the passengers, 14 personnel belonging to the armed forces were shot dead, the letter recalled.
Earlier, it was reported that of the at least 14 people who died in the incident, 11 were personnel of the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guards.
According to the ministry’s letter, “BRAS”, an alliance of three Baloch terrorist organisations, claimed responsibility for the terrorist act. Following the incident, MoFA said that the terrorists, who had arrived from the border region, returned to that area.
MoFA stated that Pakistan has “repeatedly” shared intelligence about these activities. The ministry added that in the recent past, as well on numerous occasions earlier, “information about the hubs of these Baloch terrorist organisations in Iran, having training camps and logistics bases across the border” was shared with the Iranian intelligence.
“Unfortunately, no action has been taken by Iran in this regard, to date,” the letter stated.
While lodging Pakistan’s protest against the deaths in Ormara, the MoFA added that Pakistan was awaiting Iran’s response to its “request for action against these groups based in Iran, whose locations have been identified by Pakistan a number of times.”
The ministry called on the embassy to convey the concerns to the relevant authorities in Iran for “prompt action”.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the esteemed embassy the assurances of its highest consideration,” the letter concluded.
Additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui