Chinese projects in Pakistan such as the CPEC may face more severe security challenges, because geopolitical rivalry is involved.
The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) terrorist organization, which claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s suicide bombing in Karachi that killed four people including three Chinese citizens, warned Wednesday of more deadly attacks on Chinese targets.
Spokesman Jeeyand Baloch threatened China in a statement with “even harsher” attacks unless the country halted its “exploitation projects” and “occupying of the Pakistani state.”
The BLA has been seeking self-determination for the Baloch people and separation of the Balochistan Province from Pakistan. To impose pressure on the Pakistani government and expand its influence, the BLA casts China, with which Pakistan has robust cooperation, especially on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as an easy target. But madly targeting China will only cause its own downfall.
Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the Research Center for China-South Asia Cooperation at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times that “warnings” against China from the BLA are common. In February, the BLA told China “to refrain from aiding Pakistan… or else their interests will once again be our target” after 72 hours of intense fighting between its fighters and government troops.
Nonetheless, Liu noted that it is rare that the BLA made such blatant publicity even after three Chinese were killed. Liu added that judging from the BLA’s wording that defined Chinese projects in Pakistan as “exploitation” and viewed China as an “occupier,” a stance that echoes that of the US-led West and India, it can be concluded that there are external forces behind the BLA.
“Chinese projects in Pakistan such as the CPEC may face more severe security challenges, because geopolitical rivalry is involved. There is no clear evidence, but Pakistan’s accusation of the BLA being an Indian proxy does not come out of thin air,” said Liu.
The conflict between the BLA and the central government of Pakistan is an internal one, but the BLA dragged China in to pressure the Pakistani government and achieve its separatist goal. It is worth noting that the latest suicide bombing took place amid the internal political turbulence in Pakistan, a country that just had a new government after a month-long constitutional crisis.
Cooperation with China boosts the economy of Pakistan, but religious extremism and national separatism have led to the fragmentation of political and economic interests. With the influence of Western media reports, some Pakistani forces hold radical views toward China-Pakistan cooperation, leaving the security of Chinese projects and personnel in peril.
China and Pakistan should join hands to enhance security cooperation. Pakistan must undertake forceful measures to ensure the security of Chinese investments and citizens in the country and fill in the loopholes of its current security measures.
Liu said that the 15,000 military personnel of the Special Security Division are deployed to provide security to CPEC-related projects, but the Confucius Institute, the target of the latest attack, was not within its scope.
Zhou Rong, a senior researcher at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that the work of the Pakistani military was not meticulous and persistent enough.
“The counter-terrorism department of Pakistan should raise its education level. It needs careful planning and a deep understanding of the situation to enhance the ability to analyze terror groups,” said Zhou.
China-Pakistan cooperation, be it political, economic or cultural, benefits the peoples of both countries. The construction of the CPEC in particular is a long-term strategy adopted by both and will not be deterred by terrorists or external forces with ulterior motives. Those who try to hurt the Chinese will only dr aw ruin upon themselves.
Source: Global Times