Consulate Attack an Assault on CPEC
UN Security Council has condemned “in the strongest terms” terrorist attacks against the Chinese Consulate-General in Karachi and a market in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Orakzai district resulting into martyrdom of 35 people besides injury to about 40 others. Members of the council appreciated the swift response of the Pakistani authorities. Council stressed the fundamental principle of inviolability of the diplomatic and consular premises and the obligations on host governments to take all appropriate steps to protect diplomatic and consular premises. Council members underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of those reprehensible terrorist acts accountable and bring them to justice, and urged all states to cooperate actively with the Pakistani government and all other relevant authorities in this regard.
Major pockets of terrorism in the country have been wiped out by our valiant law enforcing agencies, now the enemy, in collusion with some local disgruntled elements, is trying to trigger fresh wave of terrorism aimed at undermining efforts of Pakistan to move on the road to stability and progress. There are clear indications that the two attacks have foreign nexus. It is time for Pakistan to expose the foreign elements. A professional audit of the implementation of National Action Plan is also overdue to ensure that our own house stays in order to thwart the nexus of foreign-local nexus of terrorism.
As sunset clause regarding trial of hard core terrorists by military courts is due to take effect in January 2019, terrorists have reared their face and demonstrated the ability to resume their dastardly acts. These attackers tried to enter the Karachi based Chinese Consulate’s premises but they were intercepted by security personnel at the outer checkpoint. The heavily-guarded E-Street neighbourhood of Clifton, housing the consulate, is considered a red zone, it is home to a number of diplomatic missions. Chinese Consulate building, also serves as the residence for Chinese diplomats and other staff. Food supplies and medicines have been recovered from terrorists’ possession which point towards their probable plan of staging a hostage drama. There is a feeling of deep shock on the sad news of terrorist attack.
Although Karachi has seen a sharp decline in terror attacks since the Rangers operation began in 2013, this was the second blast in Karachi in a week. On November 17, a blast in the Quaid Abad area had killed two teenagers and wounded 12 others. An initial probe into that attack suggested the involvement of sub-nationalist groups.
Attack on Consulate was the latest in a series of assaults on Chinese nationals, including workers involved in the multi-billion dollar projects in Pakistan. Thousands of Chinese workers are employed in development of about $60 billion worth of infrastructure projects under ‘Belt and Road’ initiative. China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects have come under frequent attacks in Balochistan. The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad said it had prior information about a “series of terror attacks” planned against Chinese organisations and personnel. Pakistan government has promised China that it will deploy sufficient troops to secure the CPEC as well as Chinese nationals in the country.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the Consulate attack; and it is premature to say who was behind the attack. According to Karachi police, preliminary evidence has linked the attack to the proscribed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Twitter by BLA has reportedly claimed responsibility; however, it could not be verified independently.
Attackers’ design failed and counterterrorism operation was culminated in an hour or so. However, two questions that arise are: Who could be the prime beneficiary of such an action against the Chinese in Pakistan especially in the backdrop of PM Imran Khan’s successful visit to China; and, Is it handy work of sleeping cells being operated by RAW, NDS and even CIA? Reportedly, the attack was orchestrated by outlawed BLA commander Aslam alias ‘Achchu’. He is currently under treatment at Max Hospital in New Delhi.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, DG ISPR lauded professionalism of police force in pre-empting and foiling the major terror bid. “Pakistan Police Service has evolved through testing times. Their displayed professionalism in recent times as first responders is commendable. From pre-empting the terrorism attempts to foiling these at first checking point is the testimony. Salute to our police and its martyrs”.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also condemned the incident and praised the way the attack was foiled by the law enforcement agencies. “This was a sad incident. He added that Pakistan and China would together defeat the forces that wish to halt development in the country. Foreign Minister telephoned State Councillor and Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi and assured that a thorough investigation will be carried out to apprehend the perpetrators their financiers, planners and facilitators. Wang Yi, strongly condemned the terrorist attack and appreciated the quick, prompt and effective action of Pakistan security and law enforcement forces who sacrificed their lives to protect the Chinese Consulate. He said that the terrorist attack was an attempt to impact Pakistan China relations and to harm CPEC. He stressed that Pakistan-China brotherhood was clad in iron and such cowardly attacks could not affect it.
The PM tweeted saying that attacks were “part of a planned campaign to create unrest in the country by those who do not want Pakistan to prosper. Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind that we will crush the terrorists, whatever it takes.” “The failed attack against the Chinese Consulate was clearly a reaction to the unprecedented trade agreements that resulted from our trip to China. The attack was intended to scare Chinese investors and undermine the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. These terrorists will not succeed,” he added.
Condemnation of attack and condolences for the martyred security personnel came from all walks of life. The US and India also joined other members of international community to condemn the act of terrorism. US Chargé d’Affaires (CdA) Ambassador Paul Jones, in a tweet shared by the US Embassy in Islamabad, said: “The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi”. India’s Ministry of External Affairs also shared a statement on Twitter by spokesman Raveesh Kumar saying: “We condole the loss of lives in this dastardly attack. There can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism.” The statement added: “The perpetrators of this heinous attack should be brought to justice expeditiously. Such terrorist attacks only strengthen the resolve of the international community to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.” A statement tweeted by Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission Lijian Zhao said: “Any attempt to undermine the China-Pakistan relationship is doomed to fail,”
Friendship between Pakistan and China is everlasting, however, enemy forces are attempting to create obstacles. Pakistan is fully committed to taking all necessary measures to provide robust security to all Chinese nationals and projects in Pakistan. The two countries will continue to cooperate to thwart the designs of hostile forces against their times tested friendship. Pakistan and China are focused on their economic goals and remain steadfast to meet similar future challenges. Attack was clearly an attempt to undermine CPEC.