Takshashila Strategic Assessment – Risks to India’s national security from tensions along the Iran-Pakistan border

Risks to India’s national security from tensions along the Iran-Pakistan border
Sumitha Narayanan Kutty and Pranay Kotasthane, The Takshashila Institution

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Key Judgements
Border confrontations between Iran and Pakistan have risen sharply since February 2014, when five Iranian border guards were abducted by the Jaish ul-Adl Sunni militant group and taken into Pakistani Balochistan. More recently, four other attacks have been recorded on the Iranian side since September 2014 following which both countries exchanged mortar fire along the border.

We assess that these border tensions are poised to exacerbate as Iran’s eastern front remains vulnerable to further strikes by Sunni Baluch militants. The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) observes that the quality and training of recruits have greatly improved. Emboldened by the rise of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, the Jaish ul-Adl is keen to make some gains of its own. Certain tactics such as employing a car bomb mirror those used by the IS in Iraq.

Our assessment in the short term:

  • Jaish ul-Adl is poised to scale up attacks, possibly target bigger towns like Zabol, Zahedan
  • The Pakistani ISI will have to evaluate the relative importance of its Baloch assets and decide if it is too expensive to continue supporting Jaish-ul-Adl
  • The Iranian security forces will consider unilateral action to crush Jaish ul-Adl if Islamabad and the Pakistani army fail to rein in the group

After India and Afghanistan, Islamabad has now strained its relations with Iran. Continued incursions by terrorists from the Pakistani side into Iran and the subsequent military posturing by both countries have major implications for both Pakistan’s stability and that of the region as a whole.

In the near term, we believe that these confrontations pose a threat to Indian strategic assets in Iran –  the Chabahar port and the upcoming railway network connecting it to Afghanistan.

Download the Takshashila Strategic Assessment in PDF format (0.3MB)

This assessment can be cited as: Sumitha Narayanan Kutty and Pranay Kotasthane, “Risks to India’s national security from tensions along the Iran-Pakistan border”, Takshashila Strategic Assessment, 01 -13 November 2014, www.takshashila.org.in/1534524506254.