By Zia Ur Rehman
June 2, 2014
The Sistan and Baluchistan Province of Iran has long been associated with instability and armed conflict. The two million largely Sunni Muslim Baluch living in the province have suffered sustained racist persecution and discrimination in predominantly Shia and Persian-speaking Iran.
Analysts claim that lack of development and cultural and religious repression in Sistan and Baluchistan have encouraged popular support for the insurgency among the Baluch community. Iran claims that the main bases of the two main Baluch insurgents groups, Jundullah and Jaish-ul Adl, are in Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province, which shares a 1,165-kilometre border with Iran. Iranian forces are increasingly carrying out cross-border attacks against these groups, straining relations between Iran and Pakistan and possibly fuelling sectarian violence in both countries.
Pakistan is battling its own Baluch separatist insurgency. It is feared that the mistreatment of the Baluch community on both sides of the border could lead to an alliance between religiously motivated anti-Iranian Sunni militant groups and the various secular Pakistani Baluch separatist groups.
Iranian Baluch militants groups are not only causing an increasing internal security crisis in Iran, but are also threatening to become the key to the survival of the Taliban on the Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
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