By Agha Iqrar Haroon
On September 6, 2021, inspired by Indian television channels like TV Zee News, News18, and many more that were airing clips claiming “Kids Taking up Arms Against Taliban” in Panjshir Valley and Pakistan’s Air Force jets were hovering in Panjshir skies, the Iranian Foreign Ministry claimed that Taliban are (were) flouting international law and humanitarian law in the Persian speaking belt and Pakistani forces were physically present in Panjshir Valley.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh claimed in a regular news briefing on September 6 that Panjshir Valley was the last holdout of anti-Taliban forces in the country and the only province the Taliban had not seized during their blitz across Afghanistan. However, the reality was otherwise and Panjshir Valley had fallen to the Taliban on September 5. Iran, India, and two central Asian states were concerned with the fall of Panjshir Valley to the Taliban
Khatibzadeh claimed people were starving in Panjshir and “cutting their water and electricity is (was) a cause of concern and regret.”
Khatibzadeh did not stop here rather he claimed that evening’s aerial attacks on the Panjshir valley in northern Afghanistan were carried out by Pakistan in support of the Taliban.
“Last night’s attacks are condemned in the strongest terms…and the foreign interference that you referred to must be investigated,” Khatibzadeh said in response to a question.
Interestingly, some responsible channels of India reported that “Fact Check” indicates that all news about Pakistan’s involvement in air raids was Fake News, and the video footage used by various media channels showing a low-flying jet in hilly terrain was neither a recent one nor from Afghanistan. Twitter users pointed out that the video aired by the Times Now is of an American F-15 flying in Wales, UK.
There is no news available about any reaction from Pakistan’s Foreign Office against this irresponsible statement of the Iranian Foreign Office spokesman. There could be two reasons for this silence from Pakistan— the first possibility is that Pakistan does not want to get involved with Iran in any diplomatic rift and the second possible reason is that allegations were so ingenious and irresponsible that a responsible country like Pakistan does not want to give any head to them (allegations).
This whole episode indicates that the Iranian Foreign Office can be influenced easily by a fabricated media campaigns and there are some very serious misunderstandings that lie in the minds of Iranian diplomats against Pakistan that triggered such irresponsible statements.
Iran and Pakistan enjoys a cordial relationship since the birth of Pakistan. There are no doubts relations had certain turbulent phases also but Pakistan always considers Iran a brotherly country and wishes friendly relations with neighboring Iran.
The majority of Pakistani foreign affairs experts believe that Pakistan, Iran, and China together can shape a prosperous region once Afghanistan gets stability. The positive approach of Pakistan towards Iran was a major reason that Pakistan did not react harshly when Indian Navy and RAW spy Kulbhushan Yadav was arrested while crossing the Pak-Iran border. Reports suggest that he was on the radar of Pakistani intelligence agencies when he had been living in Iran from where he had been operating for destabilizing Pakistan.
The video of the confessional statement of Yadav exposed the whole story of him. He confessed in a video statement that he joined the Indian National Defence Academy in 1987 and was commissioned in the engineering branch of the Indian Navy in 1991. After 14 years of service, he was shifted to intelligence operations in 2003 and he was assigned by Indian intelligence RAW to establish a business in Chabahar city of Iran. Yadav in his confessional statement further said that he had entered Pakistan illegally via Iran, and was involved in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi.
Many political and religious circles in Pakistan accuse Iran of using Pakistan for its proxy wars but Pakistan as a responsible State never encourages such elements and always tries to keep cordial relations with Iran. Therefore, the arrest of Kulbhushan did not hurt Pakistan-Iran relations and both countries are having friendly relations. However, Iranian leadership should take the allegations leveled by the Iranian Foreign Office spokesman and there is a need for a thorough investigation that how such a statement was released under the influence of unfounded allegations raised by Indian media channels.
Diplomacy requires responsibility and the Pakistani nation needs a responsible move from Iranian leadership to find out who is responsible for such an irresponsible statement.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.