The foiled attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, has shed light on China’s growing role as 55 countries joined the China’s megaproject — the Belt and Road — which will link Asia, Africa and Europe.
The attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi came against the background of the expansion of Chinese investments in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, which is seeking independence from Pakistan. A number of militant groups, led by the Baloch Liberation Front and the Balochistan Liberation Army (PLA), are active in the region.
On Friday, Pakistan’s security forces foiled an attack on the Chinese consulate, killing 3 attackers after an exchange of fire. Two policemen were killed. The assailants were found with at least nine grenades, Kalashnikov bullets and explosives.
The PLA has been in the limelight since 2000 after a series of violent bombings inside the country. Pakistan and Britain designated the organization as a terrorist group in 2006.
“We regard the Chinese as invaders, just like Pakistani forces,” a spokesman for the Balochistan Liberation Army (PLA) told AFP.
Pakistan’s authorities detained 2 suspects from the cities of Karachi and Shahdadpur.
The violence in Balochistan has been on the rise as a number of attacks targeted politicians, security personnel and journalists, in the wake of growing Chinese businesses in the region.
China’s investments total $46 billion in Pakistan’s energy and infrastructure projects. Most of the projects are located in Balochistan.
Islamabad is doing its best to secure these projects, which face massive popular rejection. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said he would reconsider these projects. But he dropped his plans due to China’s requests. The Chinese presence has stirred tension in Pakistan. Many Pakistani people consider it colonial.
In 2007, the massacre of the Red Mosque took place after some extremist Islamists held a number of Chinese women. Roughly 1,000 people were killed in the confrontation between the army forces and the extremists.
The China-Pakistan economic corridor spans from the Muslim Uighur province of East Turkistan province, or Xinjiang, to Gwadar Port in Balochistan, which overlooks the Arabian Sea.