Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked his Pakistani counterpart, on Monday, to quicky arrest the leaders of a Pakistan-based Sunni group blamed by Tehran for a suicide attack that killed 42 people, including top officers of the elite Revolutionary Guard.
"Iran and Pakistan have a brotherly relationship but the presence of terrorist elements in Pakistan is not justifiable," Ahmadinejad told Asif Ali Zardari. Zardari telephoned the Iranian leader to diffuse the diplomatic row and condemned Sunday's suicide attack allegedly by Jundallah in Sistan, Iran, that killed 42 people, including five senior officers of the Guard, the state-run Pakistani news agency APP said.
"The Pakistani government should help to quicky arrest these criminals so they can punished," Ahmadinejad underlined. "The criminal terrorists must be seriously confronted by setting up a bilateral timetable," he was quoted as saying by Iran's official IRNA news agency. Zardari said the incident bore the "signatures of a cowardly enemy on the run." He assured that Pakistan will continue to support and cooperate with Iran in curbing militancy and fighting extremism and terrorism, the APP reported.
According to IRNA, Zardari agreed on setting up a timetable to confront the rebel group Jundallah. Iranian officials have accused Pakistan, Britain and the United States of aiding the group, alleged to be behind the deadly suicide bombing in the town of Pisheen in Sistan-Baluchestan province, a flashpoint of Sunni insurgency.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad had alleged the suicide assault was plotted in Pakistan, which borders the restive province.
"We became aware that some of agents in Pakistan were cooperating with the main elements of today's terrorist
incident and we consider it to be our right to demand the rendition of these criminals," Ahmadinejad as quoted as saying
in the local Iranian media.
"We want the Pakistani government not to delay the arrest of the main elements of this terrorist act any longer." General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the chief of the Guards, said that Tehran will seek that Pakistan hand over Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi, who is accused of being the mastermind of the bombing. He said an Iranian delegation will go to Islamabad to present "proof" of Pakistani support" to the group led by Rigi.
Iran's foreign ministry summoned the Pakistani charge d'affaires in Tehran and told him that "the perpetrators of this attack came to Iran from Pakistan," Iran's state-run media reported. Earlier, Iran's Ambassador to Pakistan Mashallah Shakeri told reporters here that Rigi was present in the country.
Jundallah's activities have emerged as an irritant in Pak-Iran ties. Iranian officials have complained on several occasions that Jundallah operatives are active in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan, which borders Sistan-Baluchistan.