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After Sunday’s suicide bombing, BLA threatens more attacks on Pak Army, Chinese in next 90 days

A guard keeps vigil while construction work is in under progress at Gwadar in Balochistan

Beneath the 13th August fidayeen attack on Pakistani armed forces carrying Chinese engineers is a larger target of the insurgent group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). It has given 90-day ultimatum to Chinese for leaving the province that the group deems a state independent of Pakistan and is waging “armed freedom struggle” for its sake. The BLA warning coincides with the preparation for the upcoming Pakistan election and the winding up of the key airport project of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Even though there were no confirmed reports of Chinese nationals and Pakistani security personnel getting killed, a BLA spokesman said that before two of their suicide attackers were killed, they managed to kill 4 Chinese and 11 Pakistani soldiers.

Both the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) and Chinese embassy in Pakistan denied casualties, though there was an admission that the convoy was ambushed by bombs and gunshots.

In a threat letter issued on Monday via portals that publish details of its activities, the BLA said that it has announced the completion of the third phase of its “Operation Zir Pehazag” and that its next phase will be in the next 90 days.

The BLA’s statement also conveyed a clear message to China, emphasising their view of Balochistan as an “occupied territory” and voicing their opposition to Beijing’s projects, like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the region.

“We have cautioned China repeatedly to reconsider its activities in Balochistan,” the statement read. BLA views such endeavors as acts of exploitation, stating that any foreign investments in the region should only proceed after Balochistan achieves independence.

Ending on a firm note, the BLA has issued China a 90-day ultimatum to withdraw from Balochistan or prepare for intensified attacks on its “key interests” in the region.

Meanwhile, Chinese have reportedly proposed to send their personnel to conduct joint investigation into the attack and all the personnel concerned have been properly relocated, according to the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan.


China and Baloch Matrix

China’s entry in Balochistan dates to 2007 when Beijing was granted a 40-year lease of Gwadar port to the Chinese by the Pervez Musharraf establishment. Ever since, the Chinese nationals, mostly engineers and logistics personnel, have been arriving in Pakistan. In Balochistan, they have been living in cantonments-type enclaves. Some of them even bought luxury houses in cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, where the safety has relatively better. However, as their number increased and it was found that China is involved in major mining and infrastructure projects in the resource-rich province, apart from building the deep-water Gwadar port, all part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), locals began to resent their presence and long-term business interests.

A senior columnist of Dawn newspaper who recently visited Balochistan wrote that locals see Chinese as mythical yajooj-majooj (gog and magog) that are out to devour their land and resources.

BLA and the Balochistan Liberation Front, another militant outfit waging war against Pakistan Army for secession, started targeting Chinese 2018 onwards.

In 2018, the BLA attacked the Chinese Consulate-General in Karachi in south Pakistan, during which two police officers were killed. In May 2017, 10 workers were killed by two gunmen on motorbikes, which the BLA claimed was a response to the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In April 2021, a deadly car bomb explosion that rocked a hotel which was hosting the Chinese ambassador in Quetta, Balochistan province killed five people, for which Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility.

In July 2021, a shuttle bus blast in Pakistan that killed nine Chinese and four Pakistanis was confirmed to be a terrorist attack.

In August 2021, two children were killed and three were wounded in an attack targeting Chinese nationals in Gwadar.

In April 2022, a terror attack against the shuttle bus used by Karachi’s Confucius Institute killed three Chinese teachers and their local driver, for which the BLA took responsibility.