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Explaining the Rising Tensions Between Iran and Pakistan

Iran breached Pakistani airspace on Tuesday, launching a drone strike across the border into Balochistan, targeting the bases of the Sunni militant group, Jaish Al Adl. The drone strike is said to have claimed the lives of two children, and Pakistan vowed retaliation. Because this strike comes on the heels of Iranian strikes in Syria and Iraq, it is being described as an escalation of the regional conflict that followed the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel and Israel's heavy-handed retaliation. However, this is not directly related to the Israel-Hamas conflict or the widening of that conflict by proxy or otherwise in Lebanon, Syria, or Iraq. 

Tensions are heightened right now in the region, so Tuesday’s attack on Pakistan carries more weight, but it is not the first time Iran has targeted this militant group in the border region. Pakistan is a country that is around 90% Sunni, with a Shi’ite minority, while Iran is Shi’ite, with a Sunni Baloch minority. The Iran-Pakistan border is some 1,000 kilometers long and the attack was in Balochistan, the largest province in Pakistan, which borders Iran. 

Balochistan has been in a situation of low-level insurgency for many years, and there is a fair amount of cross-border activity on the part of the Sunni militant group operating there. The group’s founder and former leader was captured and executed by Iran in 2010. The group’s main target is Iranian security forces. The U.S. has…





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