Zarif holds meetings with Pakistani officials to discuss fate of abducted Iranian forces

November 2, The Iran Project – At the head of a political and military delegation, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Islamabad early on Wednesday (Oc. 31) to pursue the fate of the Iranian border guards who were abducted by Pakistan-based terror group near the two countries’ joint border earlier on October 16.

During his day-long stop in Pakistan, Zarif held meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

12 Iranian border guards, including local Basij volunteer forces stationed at a border post in Mirjaveh region, were abducted by the so-called Jaish ul-Adl terrorists, which is based in Pakistan. Following the incident, IRGC Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said that Iran is ready for any joint military operations with Pakistani Army to free the abductees.

Upon arrival in the Pakistani capital, the Iranian foreign minister stated that Pakistani officials have promised to make every effort and adopt necessary measures to free Iranian border guards who were abducted by terrorists and taken to Pakistan territory.

“There is need for constant negotiation with Pakistani officials so that the abductees’ return to their homeland can be secured,” he stressed, while adding, “Iran and Pakistan are good neighbors and enjoy friendly relations with each other.”

In a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Zarif proposed a series of plans to strengthen security along the common border and hold joint operations in the fight against terrorist and criminal groups.

For his part, Qureshi highlighted the “friendly and brotherly” ties between Tehran and Islamabad, noting the need for sharing intelligence in the battle against terrorism.

He also gave an assurance that Pakistan would exert every effort to ensure security along the common border with Iran.

Zarif also met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for talks on political and economic issues, raising the issue of abduction of a number of Iranian forces.

The top Iranian diplomat and Imran Khan also weighed plans to enhance energy cooperation and interaction for resolving regional conflicts, as those in Yemen and Afghanistan.

Speaking to  reporters in Islamabad, Zarif said  Prime Minister Imran Khan has put forward a “very good” initiative to help end the Saudi-led war on Yemen, which has killed and injured over 600,000 civilians.

Meanwhile, FM Zarif held separate talks with General Qamar Javed Bajwa on ways to ensure security along the common border, accelerate efforts to secure the release of the kidnapped Iranian border guards, promote cooperation for regional peace and security, and resolve the conflicts in Yemen and Afghanistan.

Tehran has frequently asked the two neighbors to step up security at the common border to prevent terrorist attacks on Iranian forces.

It is the second visit of the Iranian minister to Pakistan since Imran Khan’s government came into power.

The Iranian diplomat previously travelled to Pakistan on August 31 when he and Imran Khan had discussed matters related to bilateral relations and regional security.