AN attack targeting two Chinese nationals in Karachi on Wednesday should put the security apparatus on alert in order to neutralise such threats. The two foreigners were attacked by armed motorcyclists while they were being driven to an industrial unit in the SITE area. Though one of the Chinese nationals, as well as the local driver of the vehicle, remained unhurt, the other was injured by the gunmen but was fortunately said to be out of danger. The banned Balochistan Liberation Front has claimed responsibility for the attack. The incident comes on the heels of the Dasu tragedy in which at least 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals, were killed in a terrorist attack. Moreover the Chinese consulate in Karachi had come under an armed attack — also carried out by Baloch separatists — in 2018.

It is obvious that these attacks are designed to harm the Pakistan-China relationship and to discourage foreigners from working on development projects in the country. Protection for Chinese nationals must be beefed up considering that hostile actors — including those belonging to separatist outfits that are backed by certain right-wing governments in the vicinity — appear determined to target them. The security apparatus must redouble its efforts to thwart such incidents. Following the Dasu incident, China was quite firm in demanding security for its workers, while it took efforts from the foreign minister as well as the army chief to assure Beijing that such violence targeting China’s nationals and projects in Pakistan would not be tolerated. The fact is Chinese nationals — working on CPEC as well as other projects — are ‘soft’ targets for terrorists, which is why intelligence-based actions are the best option to prevent such attacks. The economic and strategic relationship between Pakistan and China is deep, and inimical forces should not be allowed to damage this bond. The intelligence apparatus must keep a close watch on elements that intend to do harm to China’s nationals and Pakistan-China economic interests.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2021

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