CPEC and Terrorists Attack on China’s Karachi Consulate

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Col ® Muhammad Hanif

 

THE fierce attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi on the morning of 23 November 2018 was although well engineered by the foreign mentors of the terrorists, it completely failed to cause any harm to the Consulate staff, due to the daring defence done and sacrifices rendered by the Pakistan police and Rangers. Whereas all three terrorists were killed, two policemen also became  martyrs. While the attack seemed to be meant to give a message that China-Pakistan Strategic Partnership, and the CPEC), making/operation will be determinedly disturbed, the brave resistance put up by Pakistan’s security forces was a counter message to the terrorists and their sponsors that disturbing Pakistan’s vital interests will be a costly affair.

Since Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a dissident/separatist group from Balochistan, accepted the responsibility for the attack, there is no doubt that young leaders and members of BLA are working under the guidance and support of their foreign sponsors. Instead of considering the CPEC as a golden chance for Balochistan’s economic development and welfare of its people, the young Baloch BLA absconders, under self exile abroad, are only serving themselves by playing into the hands of Pakistan’s enemies, with India being in the forefront.

As mentioned above, the message the terrorists wanted to give to China and Pakistan was however  clear that they wanted to convey to both the countries that the construction and operation of the CPEC will not be a smooth affair. While the message was aimed at discouraging the Chinese to construct the CPEC, to Pakistan, it was conveyed by its enemies that their efforts to destabilize Balochistan and the CPEC, by using the Afghan soil, will continue and real peace in the region is yet far away. This means that while Pakistan’s war on terror in FATA and elsewhere has almost been eliminated, a lot is yet to be done to ensure peace in Balochistan and around the CPEC.

This objective needs constant vigilance throughout Pakistan and the exercise Raddul Fassad has to continue for an indefinite period. In other words, whereas  Pakistani security forces have to be ready to fight this hybrid anti-terrorism war launched by its enemies, the Pakistani government and its people have also to work together to implement all the provisions of the National Action Plan (NAP). However, while fighting this war, the defence of the Chinese in Pakistan in their Embassy and Consulates, and those engaged in the construction and operation of the CPEC has to be given a top priority.

To ensure the security of the Chinese officials and citizens in Pakistan, engaged directly or indirectly in the construction of the CPEC, the Security Division assigned to this task has to be vigilant and prepared to counter any Karachi like attacks, causing unbearable loss to the terrorists, to break their will to fight and defeat the resolve and ultimate objective of the BLA and other terrorist groups and their foreign sponsors. For this purpose, it is important that minimum two layered defence of the offices and areas where the Chinese are working or residing is organized. Under any circumstances, in their any future attacks, the terrorists should not be able to reach the inner perimeter of defence. Same applies to the Chinese moving from place A to B, as they should be properly guarded to ensure their security.

Apart from defending the Chinese resolutely by Pakistan’s security forces, to root out Balochistan and CPEC-related terrorism completely, there is a need that the Pakistan Government and the security forces should also launch interior and exterior approaches, using both hard and soft measures to discourage as well as to convince the misguided Baloch young people to to give up terrorism and join mainstream politics and activities to work for Balochistan’s economic progress and welfare of its people, by supporting the construction of the CPEC.

As part of the interior approach, to attract the Baloch youth, Pakistan’s related government ministries should give priority to the economic development in Balochistan and the creation of employment opportunities. Also, as a long time measure, education and health care services in Balochistan should be improved. At the same time, as a hard measure, the security forces should find out and target the BLA and other such groups’ hide-outs in Balochistan to break their will to fight and to make them surrender their weapons.

As part of the exterior approach, the Pakistan government should pursue all legal and diplomatic means to arrange the signing of the extradition of criminals’ agreements with the countries, where, BLA absconders are living in exile and try to get them back. After their return, either the dissidents should be made to surrender or face the legal charges of sedition, which should be lodged against them by the government in Pakistan’s superior courts.

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