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U.S. Security Expert Warns of Rising Tensions Between Pakistan and Iran, Stresses Need for De-escalation

Washington, January 21, 2024, The Europe Today: Lisa Curtis, Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Programme at CNAS, has sounded the alarm over heightened tensions between nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and Iran, raising concerns in the United States about the potential for the situation to spiral out of control.

In an interview, Curtis, a seasoned foreign policy and national security expert, provided insights into the motive behind Iran’s recent incursion into Pakistan. She linked the move to a retaliatory response following the double suicide bombing on January 3, an attack claimed by Dai’sh.

Curtis explained, “So I think Iran needed to show that it will strike back when attacked and Pakistan, in some ways, is viewed as an easier target, allowing Iran to show its people a retaliatory response to the terrorist attack without provoking Israel or the US.”

Highlighting the significance of U.S. concern for regional stability, Curtis cautioned against potential escalation, especially amidst existing tensions in the region, including those between Pakistan and India, as well as with the Taliban. She emphasized the need for careful handling to avoid potential chaos.

Curtis acknowledged recent indications of efforts by Pakistan and Iran to de-escalate tensions. Pakistan has been vocal about brotherly relations, and Iran has been separating Pakistani people and officials from terrorists. According to Curtis, these actions suggest joint efforts to diffuse the current tense situation.

In response to questions about the timing of Iran’s intrusion into Pakistan, Curtis noted that it was intended to send an international signal. She stated that Iran aimed to project strength and resilience, reassuring the world that it remains formidable and ready to confront any aggression. However, she added, “Despite the recent terrorist attack, Iran sought to project strength, and unfortunately Pakistan happened to be one of the targets.”

While acknowledging recent moves towards de-escalation, Curtis emphasized that the region remains at risk. She raised concerns about potential retaliation by Baloch separatists in Iran inside Pakistan and questioned the potential risks despite ongoing efforts for de-escalation. The situation calls for continued vigilance and diplomatic efforts to ensure stability in the region.