by Ali Reza

The recent missile crisis involving Islamabad and Tehran, which was triggered by the exchange of missile attacks between Pakistan and Iran, has ended with a path of détente that deserves in-depth analysis. The crisis, which originated with an Iranian missile attack in Pakistani Balucistan on Jan. 16 and was followed by a Pakistani response in Iran's Sistan Balucistan province, raised international concerns.

Initially handled by the Pakistani military establishment, the situation has seen a gradual involvement of the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, which has taken a more assertive role. Through three telephone conversations, Pakistani Foreign Minister Jilani and his Iranian counterpart Abdollahian agreed on measures for de-escalation and reaffirmed their commitment to military and security cooperation. This dialogue led to significant developments: the return of their respective ambassadors on Jan. 26 and a visit to Islamabad by Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian on Jan. 29.

A meeting of Pakistan's National Security Committee, chaired by Acting Prime Minister Kakar, further supported these developments. The communiqué issued at the end of the meeting emphasized the importance of overcoming "minor irritants" through dialogue and diplomacy, citing the existence of "multiple channels of communication between the two countries." Despite the détente, the dynamics that led to the exchange of missile attacks remain uncertain. Sources close to the Pakistani military establishment suggest that the Iranian attack missed its main target, hitting instead a building used by militants of the Salafist group "Jaish-Ul-Adl." This attack exposed a "strategic vulnerability" of Pakistan and challenged the Pakistani narrative regarding the position of "Jaish ul Adl." Similarly, the Pakistani response was intended to contradict the Iranian view on the location of Baluch terrorist groups. There is a well-established intelligence cooperation in the border area between the two countries that results in timely and continuous exchanges of information. Therefore, it seems quite unlikely that Tehran and Islamabad could have taken unilateral steps without some level of coordination using existing and rooted channels of communication, thus explaining the speed with which the crisis was handled and the moderate tone of the subsequent communiqués.

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In conclusion, the missile crisis between Islamabad and Tehran, although brief, highlighted the complex geopolitical and security dynamics in the region.The peaceful resolution demonstrates the effectiveness of diplomacy and dialogue, as well as the importance of intelligence cooperation in managing regional security threats.