With apologies to Ian Fleming for paraphrasing the title, terrorism is back again in Karachi. The attack by the banned BLA at the PSX by four heavily armed terrorists has cost the lives of four people: one police officer and three guards have been martyred. Due to the decisive response of the police and the law enforcing units the purpose of their attack – namely to enter the stock exchange and play havoc – has been frustrated. Within eight minutes the attackers have been stopped in front of the PSX building and all have been killed.
The weapons, including AK-47 rifles and grenades, besides water and food recovered from their possession showed that they had come with the intention of entering the building, killing people and holding them hostage. The sad experience of Karachi security forces with terrorist attacks have resulted in an immense improvement in their counter-terrorist capabilities: Within hours only the fingerprints of the badmashes were identified, their origins traced and their approach to the attack site reconstructed. That is a remarkable improvement.
The so-called Balochistan Liberation Army, a well-known and banned terrorist outfit, known to be pampered and financed by Indian RAW. Kulbhushan Yadav was caught on Pakistani territory in Balochistan while doing his subversive job operating from Iran. Indian’s RAW has a decades-long history of subversive activity in Balochistan, till today some disgruntled Baloch who feel that they have over the years been neglected by successive governments in Islamabad.
This is true to some extent but the majority of the Baloch recognize that they have been betrayed more by their own tribal chiefs who have accumulated fantastic wealth, live a luxurious life in their Karachi (and foreign) mansions with their children driving fancy SUVs and studying in the best schools.
Over the decades they have misappropriated money mainly from Islamabad, that was meant to build schools and roads. That was not in their interest: roads would make it easy for people to leave their miserable villages and find better lives outside. Schools would teach the Baloch children to ask questions why the tribal chief is the lord over life and death of their families.
For decades established tribal elite have managed to keep direct and indirect outside influence away and thus preserve age-old dependencies CPEC is now threatening to open up Balochistan by roads, railway lines, industrial parks and the Gwadar harbour. Harbours have always been points of entrance of new people, goods and ideas that change the local society.
Modi and Ajit Duval are desperate, what better than to launch a fresh wave of terrorism in Pakistan, other than possible “false flag” operations, through their paid proxies?
In addition, because of the scarcity of local Baloch trained work force, an influx of workers from other provinces and from China is threatening established power relations. The PSX has been chosen as the target for the BLA because it is a symbol of Chinese economic and financial power that is threatening old power structures in Balochistan. The Chinese are the anchor investors in the bourse and secured its management control after acquiring 40 per cent of its shares in 2016.
The shares are held by Shanghai Stock Exchange, Shenzhen Stock Exchange and China Financial Futures Exchange. Another five per cent of shares held by a local company are also linked to the Chinese investment. The question that Baloch should ask themselves is what kind of ‘liberation’ and liberty they want.
Would not be liberation from tribal overlords be the better option, opening the way to development, better education and jobs? By supporting BLA Baloch support those who have been exploiting them while getting rich and even more than that, they support Indian nefarious designs to break up Pakistan – a thing they have done in 1971 already.
While the geo-political changes in the South Asian region have been force-multiplied by the current pandemic and the resultant economic meltdown is true for Pakistan, it is even more so true for India. The economic impact of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has been largely disruptive. India’s growth in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2020 will go down to 3.1% according to the Ministry of Statistics.
The Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India said that this drop is mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic effect on the Indian economy. Notably India had also been witnessing a pre-pandemic slowdown, and according to the World Bank, the current pandemic has “magnified pre-existing risks to India’s economic outlook”.
Another problem that has shaken Indian public mood is the aggressive hindu-nationalist sentiment that has been supported and promoted by the Modi government and the anti-Muslim policies that even if slowly create resistance in Indian – not only Muslim- society. Last year’s change of the status of Jammu & Kashmir and the break-up of the state into two union territories ruled from Delhi have exposed to the eyes of the world (and China).
Direct terrorist attacks are only the tip of the iceberg; hybrid warfare in all its facets of undermining our integrity, spreading fake news, launching “false flag” operations, cyber warfare, etc will keep our security forces more than busy
Unfortunately for Modi (and India), one of the newly created union territories, Ladakh, is an existing dispute with China Socially and culturally as well as historically Ladakhis have more in common with Chinese Tibet than with India. The 5 June Indian provocation evoked Chinese anger and brought to the forefront Ladakh being a part of Tibet. India’s decision to join the ‘Quad’ alliance led by the US and meant to counter China is just another facet of the same situation. These developments have created a vulnerable situation within India that has a capacity to go out of hand in different scenarios.
India is in the process of losing its platform in Afghanistan from which they waged their four decades long proxy war against Pakistan (at the cost of Russian, Afghan’s lives in the 80s and then American and Afghan lives since 2000). It explains the intensified Indian activities in Balochistan.
Moreover, entire Indian strategy exists on neutralising their immediate neighbours and imposing their hegemony, this has started to unravel dramatically. Modi and Ajit Duval are desperate, what better than to launch a fresh wave of terrorism in Pakistan, other than possible “false flag” operations, through their paid proxies? With the Indian public and media baying for Chinese blood, this will divert both domestic and international public opinion.
Given this situation we must brace ourselves for more of the same, as the attacks on rangers in Sindh and the failed hostage attempt on Karachi Stock Exchange is only the beginning. Moreover, the MQM has been openly outed itself as an internal terrorist entity, with Anwar acknowledging to be the money handler for RAW in UK and confirming on prime-time TV the funds he handed over to Altaf Hussain over the years.
The BLA is being allied with MQM militants and Jiye Sindh activists by RAW which goes a long way to explain the dangers that are looming for Karachi and other parts of Pakistan. Let us start by banning the name MQM from any political party. Direct terrorist attacks are only the tip of the iceberg; hybrid warfare in all its facets of undermining our integrity, spreading fake news, launching “false flag” operations, cyber warfare, etc will keep our security forces more than busy.
Ikram Sehgal, author of “Escape from Oblivion”, is a Pakistani defense analyst and security expert. He is a regular contributor of articles in newspapers that include: The News and the Urdu daily Jang. The article first published in Daily Times and has been republished with the author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.