WEDNESDAY’S deadly attack on three Chinese-origin individuals in Karachi’s Saddar area demonstrates the threat separatist militant outfits pose to the city’s fragile security, particularly to Chinese citizens working or settled in Pakistan. A suspect posing as a patient opened fire on a dental clinic run by Dr Richard Hu, injuring the doctor and his wife while the dentist’s employee Ronald Chou died on the spot. All three victims were of Chinese origin but reportedly held Pakistani citizenship; the doctor had been settled in this country for the last five decades. The attack occurred in one of the city’s busiest areas, and police say it was a targeted killing. According to some media reports, a hitherto unknown group calling itself the Sindhudesh People’s Army claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier in May, a deadly bombing in the same area had been claimed by the banned Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army.
Previous attacks by terrorist groups have usually targeted Chinese nationals working on mega projects in Pakistan. However, this incident, in which defenceless victims who had chosen to make Pakistan their home were attacked, is particularly appalling. Moreover, none of the locals present in the clinic were targeted by the assailant. The attacks in Saddar linked to Sindhi separatist groups, as well as the April attack on Karachi University’s Confucius Institute claimed by Baloch militants, in which three Chinese teachers were killed, point to the fact that the threat from nationalist militants is considerable. As it is Karachi is plagued by violence, and foreigners make for easy, ‘soft’ targets. But in these particular cases, the violence has apparently geopolitical dimensions — damaging Pakistan-China ties and stopping work on development projects. Whatever the militants’ grievances, the murder of innocent people cannot be condoned. The fact is Karachi is flush with weapons, and large, barely governed spaces prove ideal for elements seeking to sow chaos. It is clear that the security apparatus needs to carry out intelligence-based operations in order to bust the cells responsible for acts of terrorism.
Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2022