Beijing Urges Pakistan to ‘Ensure’ Chinese Nationals' Security as BLA Warns of ‘Harsher Attacks’
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) was designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) organisation by the US State Department in 2019. It has targeted the “Chinese presence” in Balochistan, and has been involved in three deadly attacks against Chinese citizens since 2018. The BLA also targets Pakistani security personnel.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday expressed “strong condemnation” of a terrorist attack against its citizens in Karachi, as it called upon Islamabad to make a “thorough investigation” and punish the perpetrators of the attack.
Three Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver were left dead after a van belonging to the Confucius Institute at the University of Karachi was hit by a suicide terrorist attack on Tuesday.
The BLA, which advocates the secession of Balochistan from Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.
A statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry revealed that Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao had made an “urgent” phone call to the Pakistani Embassy in China in the wake of the terrorist attack.
During the call, Wu called upon the Pakistani side “to take all possible measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens in Pakistan and prevent such incidents from happening again,” as per the statement.
“The blood of the Chinese people should not be shed in vain, and those behind this incident will surely pay the price,” it added. It also said that the Chinese missions in Pakistan have activated an “emergency response mechanism” following the suicide attack.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at his weekly briefing on Wednesday that the “iron-clad partnership” between China and Pakistan remained “unbreakable” and both the countries would bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.
The strongly-worded Chinese communique came after the BLA
released a statement late Tuesday evening, identifying the suicide attacker as 30-year-old Shaari Baloch.
The terrorist group’s statement claimed that Shari is the mother of two children and held a Masters' degree in Zoology.
“Targeting the director and officials of the Confucius institute, the symbol of Chinese economic, cultural and political expansionism, was to give a clear message to China that its direct or indirect presence in Balochistan will not be tolerated,” the statement read.
It added that the BLA had “warned” China on previous occasions to refrain from “looting Baloch resources” and “aiding Pakistan militarily and financially” in the resource-rich Balochistan province.
“The Baloch Liberation Army once again warns China to immediately halt its exploitation projects and refrain from aiding the occupying Pakistani state. Otherwise our future attacks will be even harsher,” declared the statement.
Beijing is currently involved in a number of connectivity, mining and infrastructure projects in Pakistan, all of which are being constructed as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The corridor begins in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region and associated projects stretch to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, located in Balochistan.
Beijing has labelled the CPEC as the “flagship” project of its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative; Beijing is backing similar projects in more than 140 nations globally.
Attack a ‘Handywork of Common Enemies’ of China and Pakistan
Moin UI-Haque, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China said on Wednesday that Islamabad had “no doubt” that the terror attack was carried out by “common enemies” of Pakistan and China, as per an embassy statement.
“Pakistan condemns in the strongest terms this heinous and barbaric act. The government and the entire Pakistani nation resolutely stand in solidarity with our Chinese brethren and would spare no efforts to bring the masterminds and perpetrators of this attack to justice,” the Pakistani ambassador stated.
“The cowardly incident is a direct attack on the Pakistan-China friendship
and ongoing cooperation,” a separate statement from the Pakistani foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif paid a visit to the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad in the aftermath of the attack on Tuesday, a statement from Pakistan’s Press Information Department (PID) said.
“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also directed to increase the security of Chinese residents and institutions in Pakistan and make them fool-proof. He reassured that no effort would be spared to bring these criminals to justice,” added the official statement.