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Pakistan targeting Baloch women after female suicide bombing in Karachi

Baloch women block CPEC highway over abduction of alleged suicide bomber Noorjan Baloch in Hoshab (Photo: @BalochWF/Twitter)

Nationalists in Balochistan have claimed that Pakistani security forces are taking Baloch women into custody after the audacious Shari Baloch suicide bombing that killed three Chinese teachers of the Confucius Institute in Karachi in April.

In a hurriedly convened virtual press conference on Monday evening, the Baloch National Movement (BNM) said that Frontier Corps (FC) and Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel "are using State power on women and children to seek revenge". The BNM said that Noorjan Baloch was "forcibly disappeared" from Hoshab town of Kech on Monday morning.

The BNM held the press conference after Pakistani security forces arrested an alleged female suicide bomber with explosives and detonators. The security forces said that the woman was planning to attack Chinese targets in Pakistan, particularly those related to the $62 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistan also claimed that the alleged female suicide bomber belonged to the dreaded Majeed Brigade of the BLA.

The news about the arrest led to people blocking the CPEC highway. People even claimed that the local network was suspended to minimise public anger. The BNM, however, claimed that the CPEC highway remained blocked all through the day with people joining from nearby towns like Panjgur and Turbat.

Well known Pakistani journalist and human rights activist Gul Bukhari, addressing the press conference said the incident looks like a case of "utha lena" or forced kidnapping. She said: "The woman has not been arrested. If the security forces have evidence then they will arrest her and not have to abduct her".

Bukhari told the online audience that the authorities fear Twitter. She said: "Pakistani authorities fear tweets, not the media, nor newspapers. They fear Twitter because information spreads. Humare twitter accounts bund karane ki kitne koshish kari (they tried to shut down my Twitter accounts so many times) They felt more miserable when I started Tweeting in Urdu".

Refuting allegations levelled by Pakistani security forces, the foreign spokesperson of the BNM, Hammal Haidar said: "everything is based on fabrication. The target is now Baloch women. Baloch women are becoming active on Twitter and the authorities fear this".

Baloch author and activist Andalib Gichki, said that while attending the online press conference, she got calls from an unknown number. "I was threatened by the caller who did not want me to attend this press conference. The person said that he was calling from the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) office and asked me to come to the Turbat office of the ISI".

Narrating her story, Gichki said that she refused to visit the ISI office and asked the purpose of the visit.

"The caller told me that I have to meet ISI officials as I am giving statements on social media against the State… He threatened me and insisted that I will have to come and meet the new ISI officer at Turbat", she said, adding that she is now feeling afraid as the security forces can do anything.

The April attack on Chinese nationals of the Confucius Institute by a female Baloch suicide bomber, Shari Baloch, pitchforked Baloch insurgency into global limelight. The attack was such that China recalled all the teachers of the Confucius Institute from across Pakistan. 

The repeated attacks on Chinese interests including the killing of its nationals across different provinces in Pakistan has cast a shadow on diplomatic relations between the two all-weather friends. Beijing has castigated Islamabad for lax security and has demanded hefty amounts of money as compensation for its dead and injured nationals.

Many communities across Pakistan have launched attacks again CPEC projects as they find it exploitative with little benefits coming to local people.