Decoded: Iran-Pakistan Cross Border Strikes

Hello defence lovers! In the ever-evolving geopolitical landscape of South Asia, recent events have thrust the region into the spotlight once again, as Iran and Pakistan find themselves entangled in cross-border missile strikes that have sent shockwaves throughout the international community. Tensions between these two neighbouring nations have reached a critical juncture, prompting concerns about the region’s stability and the potential repercussions for global security. With two wars going on in Asia, it becomes crucial to understand the root causes, historical context, and the bigger geopolitical game culminating in this latest Iran-Pakistan standoff. This article seeks to provide a comprehensive overview, analyzing the factors contributing to the conflict and impact on the power dynamics of the Subcontinent, middle wast and entire Asia.

Cross-Border Missile Strikes

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Iran sent shockwaves in the region on Tuesday when it launched cross-border missile strikes in Pakistan’s Baloch province. According to Iran, the strikes targeted the Balochistan separatist militant group Jaish al-Adl hiding on Pakistani soil. These strikes sent outrage among the Pakistani Military’s top brass. Pakistan claims that these strikes killed two children and wounded several other civilians.

Responding swiftly to the provocation, Pakistan executed retaliatory air strikes on what it labelled as “terrorist hideouts” in Iran’s Balochistan province on Thursday. This marked a significant escalation, constituting the first instance of air strikes on Iranian soil by Pakistan since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88.


Baloch Areas in Iran-Pakistan. The cross-border Balochistan liberation movement is the key reason for the current Iran-Pakistan cross-border strikes

The Baloch separatist movement, a longstanding and complex issue, has played a pivotal role in the recent tensions between Pakistan and Iran. The movement is rooted in the aspirations of the Baloch people, an ethnic group spread across the borders of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, with a significant population in the Balochistan region.

In both Pakistan and Iran, the Baloch people have voiced grievances related to political marginalization, economic disparity, and cultural suppression. The desire for greater autonomy or outright independence for the Balochistan region has fueled the separatist movement on both sides of the border.

In Pakistan, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other insurgent groups, including Jaish al-Adl, have been actively involved in acts of insurgency, targeting security forces and infrastructure. The Baloch insurgents often cite human rights violations, economic exploitation, and political disenfranchisement as the driving forces behind their struggle.

On the Iranian side, similar sentiments have fueled the Baloch separatist movement, with groups like Jaish al-Adl (known as Jaish al-Dhulm in Iran) seeking autonomy for Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan provinces. The region, marked by economic underdevelopment and a sense of neglect, has become a breeding ground for separatist sentiments.

The Bigger Geopolitical Game Behind Iran-Pakistan Conflict

Iran’s recent airstrikes on alleged terrorist hideouts within Pakistani borders evoke memories of the 2019 Balakot airstrikes carried out by the Indian Air Force under similar circumstances. The stark parallel lies in the challenges faced by Pakistan, unable to respond effectively in 2019 and facing humiliation as its flagship fighter, the F-16, succumbed to an obsolete Mig-21 in a dogfight.

It is quite evident that the Pakistani military’s primary goal has changed from “winning wars” to “winning elections”. To distract the Pakistani citizen from this change in objective and to save itself from humiliation just like that of 2019, seems to be the primary motivation of the Pakistani military to retaliate to Iranian strikes.

However, the American influence over the Pakistani military actions in this Iran-Pakistan conflict cannot be ruled out. Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been harassing the ships passing the Gulf of Aden. Houthi rebels have also specifically targeted cargo ships sailing under Israeli and American flags.

Hezbollah on the other front, have been constantly harassing Israel from the northern frontier, from Lebanon. It is open open-book secret that both Hezbollah and Hamas are heavily backed by Iran. Iran’s support to both of these groups has been instrumental in this prolonged Israel-Hamas conflict.

Thus opening another front with Pakistan will be crucial in distracting Iran’s focus on anti-Israel campaigns throughout the Middle East. Involving in proxy wars and fighting with an adversary who has decades of experience fighting the world’s fourth-strongest nation are completely different things. However, a full-blown conflict will be detrimental for both resource-scarce nations.


In the midst of Asia grappling with two major wars, the recent hostilities between Iran and Pakistan emerge as a concerning development that could further destabilize the region. At a time when tensions are high and resources are stretched thin, the escalation between these two nations poses a significant threat to regional stability.

China, positioning itself as a mediator in international conflicts, now has an opportunity to showcase its diplomatic prowess. Given its strategic interests in both Pakistan and Iran, China could play a pivotal role in defusing tensions and fostering a conducive environment for dialogue. As a key player in the region, China’s involvement may prove instrumental in preventing further escalation and promoting a diplomatic resolution.

From the Indian perspective, Iran’s actions are viewed through the lens of its historical responses to similar situations. India has, in the past, taken a zero-tolerance stance against terrorism, and it sees justification in Iran’s efforts to address security concerns. The complex regional dynamics underscore the importance of a balanced approach that acknowledges the nuances of each nation’s security challenges.

In the grand geopolitical chessboard, the Asia-Pacific region remains a focal point, and the ripple effects of conflicts between Iran and Pakistan could have far-reaching consequences. As the international community observes these developments with a wary eye, the hope is for diplomatic channels to prevail over hostilities, fostering a path towards stability in this volatile period.


Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.

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