Iran Asks Pakistan for Help in Political Hostage Crisis
“We are not dealing with this group,” said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission. “We will be dealing with the government of Pakistan. If there is any negotiation to be done, it will be done by [Pakistanis].”
Iranian officials are demanding swift cooperation since it is believed the hostages are being held in the group’s hideout across the border, in Pakistan. There is currently a bill about to be discussed in the Iranian Parliament which would “allow the pursuit of terrorists in Pakistani territory.”
“Fortunately the soldiers are alive and they will soon return to their families, God Willing,” said General Hasani Sa’di, deputy coordinator of the Armed Forces Joint Headquarters, after the release of a video showing the hostages for the first time.
However, reaction from other officials indicated that resolving the crisis will probably be complicated and prolonged, with no guarantee of a happy ending.
Jeish al-Adal, the group taking responsibility for the abductions, has announced its aims as greater rights for native Sunnis in Sistan-Baluchestan Province and the release of its members and supporters from prison. The group has carried out assassinations and bombings in pursuit of its goal.
In return for the release of the five border guards, Jeish al-Adl is demanding the release of 300 prisoners, including 50 members of the group and 250 Sunni citizens, 50 of these women, allegedly being held by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards in Syria.
The Iranian government has refused to deal directly with the group and in the past has responded by executing more than a dozen prisoners and making sweeping arrests in retaliation.