QUETTA -- The Iranian regime's proxy wars and plans for regional domination were dealt a powerful blow with the killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Pakistani analysts and observers say.
Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed by a US drone strike January 3 in Baghdad.
The US Defence Department said he had been "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region" and that it took "decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani".
The Quds Force, bearing the Arabic name for Jerusalem, specialises in foreign missions. It provides training, funding and weapons to extremist groups, including Lebanon's Hizbullah and the Palestinian group Hamas.
Soleimani and his Quds Force were also pivotal in supporting Syrian regime forces in that country's civil war.
In its quest to expand its regional influence and establish dominance, the Quds Force has been recruiting Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi and Yemeni youth to fight for its interests.
One of main groups created by the Quds Force is the Zainabiyoun Brigade, a militia made up of Pakistani migrants and pilgrims.
Soleimani was "the main player of the Iranian revolution's export agenda in the region and ... a threat to the ongoing peace efforts," said Nadeem Ahmed, a Quetta-based security and regional affairs analyst.
"Over the past few years, the region has witnessed a significant rise in sectarian infiltration. In my judgment, the killing of Qasem Soleimani will largely de-escalate this sectarian conflict," he said.
Tehran is interfering in neighbouring countries as part of a plan to establish its Shia domination, he added.
"Soleimani was the founder of many proxy militias, and his death may greatly undercut the role of those groups that Iran is sponsoring for its strategic interests," Ahmed said.
In addition, Soleimani's death "also may have a positive impact on the Afghan peace process," he noted.
"Iran has been undermining the Afghan peace talks for a long time, and some factions of the Afghan Taliban openly claim that Iran, via Soleimani, had been providing them weapons and other logistic support in Afghanistan," said Ahmed.
For Dr. Talat Shabbir, an Islamabad-based senior defence analyst and director of the Pakistan China Study Centre at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, the impact of Soleimani's death on Pakistan is considerable.
"Pakistan is the most vulnerable country in the region to the threat of radicalisation and sectarian conflicts," he said.
"We can't afford further conflicts in the country and the sectarian conflict is one of our major fault lines," Shabbir said. "In the coming days Iran could use its proxy militias to help it attain its strategic interests, but I must say we have to remain vigilant in order to foil any such attempt on our soil."
"Armed proxy militias in Pakistan and other neighbouring countries could be used extensively for destabilising our region in the future," he said.
"To neutralise the threat of proxy wars, now is the time to implement all of the 20 clauses of the National Action Plan (NAP)", he said, referring to the government's counter-terrorism plan.
A safer region
Maj. (ret.) Omar Farooq, an Islamabad-based senior security analyst, said that with the killing of Soleimani, the region will likely become a safer place.
"Qasem Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people and he had destabilised many regional countries for decades. He was planning on making the situation in the region more unstable to further Tehran's interests."
For example, Iranian security agencies, led by Soleimani, "were involved in the massacre of Sunni Baloch not only in Iran but also in the bordering areas of the Pakistani Balochistan Province as well", he said.
"It is evident from statements from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry that several attacks that militants carried out in Balochistan were linked to Iran, and investigations proved that the militants involved in those attacks fled to Iran," Farooq added.
"Qasem Soleimani was a threat to regional peace, and he was using proxy militias in an attempt to export the Iranian revolution into neighbouring countries," he said.
Barkat Jamaldini, a tribal leader in Taftan, a city in Balochistan near the Iranian border, said the Iranian regime has been involved in numerous cross-border attacks, and in the last few years the majority of such attacks were carried out by Iranian border forces under the command of Soleimani.
"We have lost the lives of a huge number of innocent people from the shelling of Iranian border forces in our bordering areas," he said. "Believe me, our people are still celebrating the killing of Soleimani, as after his death we haven't witnessed a single attack and now peace in our area is visible."
"Baloch minorities in Iran are largely suffering from Iranian policies and especially from the atrocities carried out by the IRGC in Sistan-Baluchistan, Zahedan and other areas of Iran close to the Pakistani border," Jamaldini added.
"We hope that the killing of Qasem Soleimani will have a very positive impact on the peace situation in our bordering areas," he said. "We demand that the Pakistani government take more concrete steps to get rid of the Iranian shelling on our bordering areas."