ISLAMABAD/TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif has sought the United Nations’ help for the release of Iranian border soldiers abducted by extremists.
Zarif sent a message to UN Chief Ban Ki-moon, demanding action from the international community, saying “mere condemnation of acts of terrorism is not enough.”
His urgent plea to the UN chief came after Jaish-ul-Adl, a group operating in southeast Iran, claimed to have killed one of the five abducted soldiers and threatened further executions.
Some reports also alleged that the soldiers had been taken into Pakistan after being kidnapped in February.
Zarif linked the abduction to what he termed a “series of terrorist atrocities against Iranian citizens, including diplomats and other officials,” according to a copy of his letter to Ban posted on his Facebook page.
A diplomatic source in Tehran said the letter could pave the way for a debate within the UN as “state-sponsored terrorism” was a regional issue.
Jaish-ul Adl, which took up arms in 2012, claimed responsibility for the killing of a local prosecutor and 14 Iranian border guards in an ambush in 2013.
Ties with Islamabad have taken hit since the abduction, with Iran criticising what it calls Pakistan’s inability to secure its borders and purge its soil of militants.
Meanwhile, Pakistan on Thursday categorically said there were no signs of Iranian guards’ presence on its land. Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam during her weekly briefing said, “Our authorities combed Pakistani territory to trace the missing Iranian guards, but there are no clues of their presence in Pakistan.”
She said Pakistan and Iran enjoyed deep-rooted multifaceted ties and were cooperating on the issue of missing guards. The spokesperson said the Iranian guards went missing at least 5-10 kilometers inside Sistan and an organisation, Jaish-ul-Adl, claimed the responsibility for the abduction of the missing guards. She said Pakistan would extend its all possible cooperation to Iran for the recovery of these guards.
Replying to a question, Tasnim Aslam said the dead body of a slain Iranian guard was not found from the Pakistani territory, which also gave the hint about the other guards.
The spokesperson said on the issue of the missing Iranian security guards, Pakistan was neither apologetic nor did it want Iran to have an aggressive attitude.
Regarding Morning Glory ship, the spokesperson said Pakistani crew was likely to arrive today (Friday) or tomorrow (Saturday). She said after necessary investigations in Tripoli, Libyan authorities had cleared all of them.
On Nuclear Supplier Group, the spokesperson said: “Pakistan feels it qualifies for the NSG status. We have sought the status of NSG for our energy requirements.”
Regarding Narendra Modi’s statements, the spokesperson said it was unfortunate that Pakistan had become an issue of election campaign in India. She said Pakistan strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. She reiterated Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir dispute and urged India to sit with it for the resolution of all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.
On the issue of hiatus in US drone attacks, the spokesperson hoped the United States would maintain this policy on drones as they were counterproductive.
In reply to a question regarding the Bangladesh government’s directive for its cricket spectators, she said it was a matter to be looked into by the International Cricket Council.
She added spectators were well aware of their feelings and could better decide about their support for any country.
Commenting on the reports published in an American newspaper, the spokesperson said there had been no proof that Al-Qaeda leadership was moving to Syria from Pakistan, adding the reports were baseless and false.