Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani is in Pakistan for talks with Pakistani leadership on security cooperation and border issues. He will meet Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and the newly-appointed National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua.

The Iranian situation often escapes news headlines, probably because nobody in Pakistan wants to attract Saudi ire, nor do they want to create any controversy with the unpredictable and powerful Iranian state. But, we can’t ignore the neighbour any longer. Shamkhani’s agenda for the trip includes border security, intelligence-sharing, security cooperation and exploring the prospects of bilateral cooperation after the nuclear-related sanctions are lifted.

Though we have much in common with Iran and Turkey, we have to keep our national interest as the top priority. We should keep in mind Iran’s relationship with India and their aggressive posturing on the borders. The Iranian border guards on Saturday morning fired eight mortar shells in a village in Panjgur district of Balochistan. Pakistan had raised the issue with the Iranian government but Tehran has categorically stated that it will target terrorists trying to disturb peace in Iran whether they are in Iran or Pakistan. No one should be allowed to question the sovereignty of Pakistan.

Iran has already been accused of fanning Balochi separatism. Due to the security situation in Balochistan, and the fact that the state apparatus has always muzzled discussion on the issue of Baluchistan, we will never have clarity on why these mortars are fired and why no formal complaints are lodged by the Pakistan government. As of 2014 there were about two million ethnic Baloch in Iran and the Shi’ite Islamic revolution perceived the predominantly the Sunni Baloch as a “threat “. Sistan-e-Balochistan in Iran, has the worst indicators for life expectancy, adult literacy and access to improved water sources and sanitation, of any province in Iran. The history of terrorism and resistant against the state here is complicated and Pakistan and the US have not traditionally played a positive role, by the estimation of the Iranian government. This should provide some context for the mortars fired, and the reason for the potential Iranian-Indian connection in Pakistani Balochistan.

The only silver lining currently, with regards to any potential Iranian aggression is that Iran is vehemently anti-ISIS. Any interference in to Pakistan will thus be by the say-so of the Iranian state. And if ISIS comes to Pakistan, Iran is the only country in the region that will want to root it out. In an odd way, Iran stands between us and Daesh. It is unlikely that Iran will be exporting terrorism to Pakistan, apart from problem of ethnic conflict in Balochistan. We would rather that Pakistan be the one exporting to Iran, and agricultural and manufactured commodities at that.