Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Chinese Consulate Attack in Karachi


 Chinese Consulate Attack in Karachi

            The attack by terrorists of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi on 23 September 2018 represents a sign of hostility from numerous external actors toward the welfare of Pakistan. It is important to note that the BLA is a terrorist organization whose leaders have openly attended talks in India in the past and which, despite frequent targeting of innocent civilians as its victims, finds refuge in European states such as the UK and Switzerland. Sources have also stated that a famous BLA commander affiliated with the attackers is being treated medically in India. The US-backed Kabul regime is also complicit in supporting such anti-Pakistan terrorists.

             
           The attack is significant because it is part of the joint strategic policy of several external actors to attack Pakistan on numerous fronts as part of what is often described as hybrid warfare ­– warfare using overt and also covert, deniable means involving information propaganda and support to paramilitary groups and non-state actors. The attack itself represented an attempt to isolate Pakistan from a close ally in China by driving a wedge between the two, with the ‘isolation of Pakistan’ being a policy the Indian premier Modi openly talked about in 2015 onwards.
           
           The attack also aims to achieve the disruption of Chinese investment in Pakistan, CPEC, which is a vital part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) since it provides China a land corridor to ports on the Arabian Sea thus reducing Chinese dependence on the Straits of Malacca where hostile naval presences threaten its trade routes. CPEC also connects China’s problematic Xinjiang autonomous territory where it hopes to generate businesses and employment for the locals through trade with Pakistan for the sake of addressing grievances of the agitated Uighur Muslims living there. CPEC is thus crucial to Chinese policy-makers and to its US-Indo rivals, with the US having declared China a major rival and having made several concessions to Chinese rival India to maintain the ongoing US-Indo defence and strategic relations progress.

In addition, destabilizing Balochistan which is crucial to CPEC for the sake of damaging both Iran and Pakistan has been discussed by prominent US think tanks such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Brookings Institution. Certain US Congress members in the past also expressed sympathetic views toward Baloch separatism and certain US media portray Baloch separatists in a positive light. Balochistan-based terrorists are proposed by such strategists as a weapon against both Iran and Pakistan. Balochistan-based terror groups such as Jundullah and Jaish e Adl receive assistance from Israeli intelligence services to attack Iran. Assisting them is additionally a means of creating distrust between Iran and Pakistan and India is complicit in this aspect of the hybrid war as per the isolation strategy.

These circumstances demand a comprehensive and multidimensional counter-strategy from Pakistan to which all state institutions contribute as stakeholders. Along the lines of the National Action Plan (NAP), a more multi-dimensional action plan must thus be devised which covers all aspects of the hybrid warfare against Pakistan. Current discourse on the full range actors complicit in this hybrid warfare, barring India, is weak and foreign policy is not tailored to meeting the challenges. 

The military rapprochement with Iran initiated by the COAS General Bajwa must be complimented with enhancing economic ties and turning Iran into a major energy supplier as a cheaper alternative to existing ones. The Iran-Pakistan pipeline will bring immediate energy benefits to the sensitive province of Balochistan as well. Soft policy toward the Kabul regime must be abandoned as fruitless and open dialogue carried out with the Taliban carried out as is being done by several SCO states currently. Any hostility by the Afghan side regarding fencing of the border must be responded to by the military and terrorist camps operating freely on Afghan soil must be targeted and destroyed. Considering Chinese and Russian backing, Pakistan must begin discussions to shut down the NATO transit route to Afghanistan thus compelling the US to take into consideration that Pakistan has provided it since long with the least costly and shortest shipping routes.

Credit: Agha Hussain Akram

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