15:00 GMT07 April 2020
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    Earlier this week, media reported the terror attack near the Chinese diplomatic mission in Karachi which Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan later characterized as a "conspiracy" against China-Pakistan strategic cooperation. Radio Sputnik discussed this with Muhammad Amir Rana, Director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) in Islamabad.

    Sputnik: Pakistan's Prime Minister said that the attack represented a conspiracy against China-Pakistan cooperation. What is your take on the nature of the attack?

    Muhammad Amir Rana: This is not the first attack of this sort and this particular nationalist group which is involved in this terror attack was managing attacks on Chinese interests in Balochistan province before.

    So I don't see that there is any specific conspiracy behind this attack. This is somehow a continuity of terrorist attacks managed by the nationalist insurgents in Balochistan.

    READ MORE: Two Suspects Arrested Following Attack on China's Consulate in Karachi — Reports

    But this attack is significant at this time, in that they had managed an attack outside Balochistan province and they had attacked the Chinese Consulate located in Karachi. Obviously, this attack has attracted global attention, which somehow has brought pressure on the Pakistani government.

    Sputnik: What do you think was the goal of this attack?

    Muhammad Amir Rana: As you know, most of these militant and terrorist groups want to create an impact and want to catch the attention of the authorities and international community on some particular issue.

    And this particular attack reflects the anger of this insurgent group about the Chinese presence in the province. Rightly or wrongly, they conceive that this economic transformation initiative may not help the Balochi people but is going to be a benefit for the major ethnic group of Pakistan.

    What has been seen in the past is that the government has mostly tried to be with these kinds of groups through hard approaches, and I think there is still plenty of room to deal with this such issues through other political means.

    Sputnik: Do you feel that this attack has drawn attention to the issue of Balochistan province and its people?

    Muhammad Amir Rana: Obviously it has drawn the attention of not just the authorities but generated global attention for Balochistan. But, as whereas the impact of this attack is concerned, it may not hurt the ongoing feedback initiative and the projects, which are underway across the country. It may not have a major negative impact on bilateral relations between China and Pakistan.

    READ MORE: Suicide Bombers Storm Chinese Consulate in Pakistan's Karachi, 2 Killed (VIDEO)

    But, of course, it will increase the security costs of all these initiatives. We know that Pakistan already has made a huge arrangement for safeguarding Chinese nationals engineers and their interests, specifically the CPEC project in Pakistan.

    Obviously, the Chinese are quite concerned about the safety of their nationals working in Pakistan, so such kinds of attacks and incidents somehow increase the surveillance level and that means that it will increase the security costs of this economic project.

    Sputnik: What changes in the relations do you think we can expect between China and Pakistan as a result of this recent attack?

    Muhammad Amir Rana: This is not going to create any significant impact except it will increase security costs. We know that the Chinese already knew that where they began investing in this economic transformation initiative; there are many groups operating and these areas have this kind of problem.

    So this assessment already has been made and even pointed out many times in many of the assessments developed and conducted by Beijing or different think tanks here in Pakistan. And even if you look at all the MoUs which have been signed between China and Pakistan, it is categorically emphasized regarding and the security of this feedback.

    That means that there is anticipation to spoiler whether they are local in their nature — the insurgent groups, or maybe they are external. They can sabotage and create problems for these economic initiatives.

    Sputnik: Now how important is Chinese investment into strategic cooperation for Pakistan?

    Muhammad Amir Rana: This is quite significant. This is transforming the Pakistan economy and, of course, it has a strategic significance as this economic initiative had come under a time when Pakistan was somehow under immense pressure by the US, which was demanding even more of a Pakistani role in Afghanistan in the war against terrorism, where Pakistan already had contributed a lot.

    Of course, this had created a balance between the relations between China and the US. And even if you look at it, it had created a strategic balance in the region if you are looking at this South Asia region in India-Pakistan relations contact. So it has a huge impact on strategic relations apart from its geo-economic significance.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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