Saad Rasool |
On Friday this week, terrorism once again raised its ugly head in Pakistan. In two simultaneous attacks, one in KPK and the other in Karachi (there is still no consensus as to whether these were coordinated by the same sponsors), Pakistan lost more than thirty-five innocent lives to the scourge of mindless violence. One of these events – the bomb blast in the town of Klaya in Orakzai region of KPK – caused the most damage, killing over thirty innocent bystanders.
Importantly, this attack (at least in its execution) seemed similar to most of the precedents: high amounts of explosives were employed, an IED was presumably used, a busy marketplace was chosen, but no international installations were specifically targeted. However, the other attack (on Chinese Consulate in Karachi), which was foiled by the security forces, seems a lot more nefarious in its planning and ambitions.
The attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi was neutralized by the brave men and women of our law enforcement agencies, some of who were martyred in the process.
To begin with, this was not just a bomb explosion, detonated through some obscure IED, hidden in some undetectable object. It was also not a suicide bomber, walking up to the crowd and blowing himself up. It was three gunmen, armed with assault rifles, (reportedly) also having suicide jackets, who wanted to enter the Chinese Consulate and cause damage to the foreign nationals in the premises.
The closest analogy to such an attempt, in Pakistan, would have to be the attack on Sri Lankan cricket team, carried out in Lahore in March of 2009. And much like the Sri Lankan team episode, the primary target of attack on the Chinese Consulate seems to be Pakistan’s image in the international community, and specifically its entrenched relationship with the People’s Republic of China – as manifested in the ongoing CPEC projects.
Put another way, how would the attack on Chinese Consulate in Karachi further the goal of ‘liberating’ Balochistan? Does China have military presence in Balochistan? Are Chinese people suppressing the rights of Balochis? Do they have a history of conflict against one another? Would Balochistan be ‘liberated’ (per claims of BLA) if the Chinese left Pakistan? The answer to all of these questions would have to be a resounding ‘No’.
One of these events – the bomb blast in the town of Klaya in Orakzai region of KPK – caused the most damage, killing over thirty innocent bystanders.
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Could other domestic militant outfits have any interest in attacking the Chinese Consulate? Could an attack on the Chinese Consulate further the sectarian goals of organisations such as Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) or Lashkar-e-Jhangvi? Are they Chinese becoming Shia, and thus deserve a Sunni bullet? Absolutely not. How about the organisations that ostensibly wage ‘jihad’ for the imposition of an ‘Islamic’ government in Pakistan? Do such outfits – including the likes of TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar – have any beef with the Chinese?
Are the Chinese preventing the imposition of Sharia law in Pakistan? Certainly not. Could organisations such as TLY (which is not deemed as a terrorist outfit) be involved in such a case? Have the Chinese printed some cartoon that they object to? Have the Chinese been blasphemous? Of course not. Moving on, are the Chinese helping Israel suppress the people of Palestine? No. Are they providing military support to either side in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East? No.
Then what, if any, could be motivation of a domestic militant organisation in Pakistan to attack the Chinese Consulate in Karachi? The answer, no matter how one parses the issue, would have to be that the Chinese have neither done nor planned any activity that would offend the different fault-lines of militancy in Pakistan. In the circumstances, who could have the motive, the resources and the determination to cause damage to Chinese interests in Pakistan? And, by extension, who would like to see a concerted rift in China-Pakistan relationship, especially as it relates to increased (and long-term) Chinese presence in Pakistan?
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The answer, for better or worse, is clear: India, and Afghanistan’s NDS, which is increasingly speaking the Indian dialect. And, solidifying this conclusion, our initial investigations reveal that the mastermind of the Chinese Consulate attack was no other than Aslam Achu, the militant leader of BLA, currently residing in India and undergoing medical treatment at an Indian hospital.
Put another way, how would the attack on Chinese Consulate in Karachi further the goal of ‘liberating’ Balochistan? Does China have military presence in Balochistan?
This begs the next series of questions: why is it that, despite such tangible evidence concerning Indian fingerprints on the trigger of militancy in Pakistan, we are unable to implicate India at the global stage? How is it that the Mumbai attacks (without any conclusive proof of Pakistan involvement) resulted in such tremendous backlash for Pakistan, but Kalboshan Yadav’s signed confession (of perpetrating violence in Balochistan and Karachi) has remained powerless in incriminating India? Why is it that Ajmal Kasab became an international name for terrorism, whereas Aslam Achu remains largely anonymous?
The answer to these (and other such) questions is depressingly simple: over the past decade and a half, successive government in Pakistan have remained entirely ineffective in projecting the essence of Indian involvement in militant activities across Pakistan. In fact, despite all the hue and cry, our former Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif) entirely shied away from naming Kalboshan Yadav. Despite hiring of international lobbying firms (e.g. Roberti Global) to try and bring himself back into power, Nawaz Sharif and his government never hired such lobbying power to rally the cause of Pakistan.
We failed to nominate our judge (within time) before the International Court of Justice, for prosecuting Indian sponsored terrorism in Pakistan. The likes of Mehmood Achakzai, who speak NDS’s language more than Pakistan’s, remained and “ideological ally” of the former government. And to top it all, Nawaz Sharif decided to go on the record to support Indian stance (of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism) in that infamous interview to Cyril Almeida.
No matter how one parses the issue, would have to be that the Chinese have neither done nor planned any activity that would offend the different fault-lines of militancy in Pakistan.
Of course India is sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan. They have opposed CPEC from the very start. They are the immediate affectee of Pakistan’s expanding relationship with China. They the most to gain with destabilisation in Balochistan and Karachi. They have a tangible interest in painting Pakistan as a rogue State with nuclear weapons.
But that is all part of the game, between two States with entrenched lines of enmity. Our real grievance is not with the enemy (India) who has plotted and planned against Pakistan; our real gripe is with the governments and leaders who refused to call the enemy by its name.
Thankfully, the attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi was neutralised by the brave men and women of our law enforcement agencies, some of who were martyred in the process. But such sacrifice will only be of much value if the present government breaks tradition with the past, and builds international consensus against Indian-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan.
Saad Rasool is a lawyer based in Lahore. He has an LL.M. in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School. He can be reached at: [email protected], or Twitter: @Ch_SaadRasool. The article originally appeared at The Nation and has been republished with author’s permission.