Pakistan downplays Iran firing shells across border

– Pakistan and Iran are brotherly countries, and have no disputes, says Pakistani official, downplaying incident

At a time when Pakistan is locked in border clashes with its archrival India, Iran has fired mortar shells into Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, but Islamabad quickly downplayed the incident, reported Anadolu Agency.

Iranian border guards fired 3 mortar shells into Baluchistan’s remote Pangur district on Thursday, hours after India claimed it had carried out “surgical strikes” on the Pakistani part of the disputed Kashmir valley causing no loss to life and property, officials said.

“It was just a coincidence that this happened on the same day that India violated the ceasefire across the Line of Control [de facto border that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India]. Otherwise there is no comparison between the two incidents,” a Pakistani Foreign Office official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking with the media, told Anadolu Agency.

“Pakistan and Iran are brotherly countries, and have no border or any other disputes,” he added.

The shelling follows the visit of an Iranian naval ship, which arrived in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi last Wednesday to take part in a joint exercise between the two naval forces.

Iran, which shares a 900-kilometer border with Pakistan, intermittently fires mortars into the mineral-rich Baluchistan province, mainly during clashes between Iranian border guards and the militant group Jandullah, as well as at drug smugglers.

Iran has claimed that Jandullah, made up to ethnic Sunni Baluchs and responsible for brazen attacks on Iranian security forces in its Sestan-Baluchistan province, operates from Pakistan’s border areas.

Tehran is also involved in several trade and defense joint ventures with India, including the development of Iran’s Chabahar port in response to Pakistan’s strategic deep-sea Gawadar port, which it is developing with the help of China.