Pakistan expels Iranian ambassador after air strike

ISLAMABAD January 18: Following Iran’s violation of Pakistani airspace, Islamabad Wednesday announced expelling the Iranian ambassador while recalling its envoy from Tehran.

“Pakistan has decided to recall its ambassador from Iran and that the Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan who is currently visiting Iran may not return for the time being,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said while addressing a press briefing in Islamabad.

The development comes after Tehran targeted the bases of, what it claimed was a terrorist organisation — Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) — inside Pakistani territory, “Green Mountain” with drones and missiles, and destroyed the headquarters of the said terrorist group, reported Iranian state media.

The attacks killed two children and injured three girls on the Pakistani side, as per the FO.

Calling it an “unprovoked and blatant” breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty by Iran, Islamabad termed the move as a violation of international law and the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

“This illegal act is completely unacceptable and has no justification whatsoever. Pakistan reserves the right to respond to this illegal act. The responsibility for the consequences will lie squarely with Iran,” Baloch said.

Furthermore, the spokesperson also revealed that Islamabad has decided to suspend all high-level visits that were ongoing or were planned between Pakistan and Iran in the coming days.

Earlier, warning Tehran of “serious consequences”, the FO had lamented that the “unacceptable violation” of Pakistani sovereignty took place despite the existence of several channels of communication between the two neighbouring countries.

Islamabad has already communicated strong condemnation of Tehran’s move to the Iranian Charge d’affaires who was told that the consequences of such an unprovoked move lie squarely with Iran.

Reiterating Pakistan’s stance on coordinated action against the scourge of terrorism, the spokesperson had underscored that such unilateral acts are not in conformity with good neighbourly relations and can seriously undermine bilateral trust and confidence.

A day earlier, Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) also launched missile attacks on multiple “terrorist” targets in Syria and in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region which destroyed “a spy headquarters” and a “gathering of anti-Iranian terrorist groups” in Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The move drew strong reactions from both Washington and Baghdad with the former terming the attacks as “reckless” and the latter recalling its ambassador from Tehran for consultations.

Earlier in the day, reacting to the Iranian strikes caretaker Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai said that the move has damaged the relations between the two countries.