Pakistan holds emergency meeting after Iran strikes

Nuclear-armed Pakistan and Iran have launched air strikes on each other’s territory this week, escalating tensions between the two neighbors

The strikes carried out on either side of the border have stoked fears of a wider conflict (photo: IANS)
The strikes carried out on either side of the border have stoked fears of a wider conflict (photo: IANS)


Pakistan's top civilian and military leaders are holding an emergency meeting on Friday, 19 January to review the tense security situation amid the country's standoff with neighboring Iran.  

Islamabad said on Thursday, 18 January that it had launched air strikes on insurgents in Iran, two days after Tehran struck "terrorist targets" inside the South Asian country.

Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar will chair the National Security Committee meeting, his office said. The country's powerful army chief and heads of intelligence agencies will take part in the meeting.

It aims at a "broad national security review in the aftermath of the Iran-Pakistan incidents," Pakistani Information Minister Murtaza Solangi told Reuters.

Fears of escalation and wider instability

The tit-for-tat air strikes across the porous border between the two neighbors have stoked tensions between nuclear-armed Sunni-majority Pakistan and Shiite-dominated Iran, and fueled fears of wider instability in the region.

Iran is a major backer of militant groups in the Middle East, including Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.

Hamas and Hezbollah are designated terrorist groups by Germany, the US and Israel. Washington also added the Houthis to its terrorism list on Thursday.

Pakistan's former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told DW that any concerns Iran had about terrorism or separatism should have been addressed through diplomatic channels rather than military action.

"I can just certainly say Iran did a grotesquely stupid, wrong thing," she said. "I don't think Pakistan had many options. I'm not in government right now, I can speak openly." 

The United Nations and the United States have appealed for restraint, while China has offered to mediate between the two countries.

The European Union said on Thursday it was deeply worried about the "spiral of violence in the Middle East and beyond."

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Published: 19 Jan 2024, 1:34 PM