Yesterday, the Chinese Consulate in Pakistan was attacked by three heavily-armed suicide bombers.
The bombers stormed the consulate in Pakistan’s largest city—Karachi—killing four people including two policemen, before being shot dead by security forces which foiled the daring attack in the high-security zone.
Reports are that the attack was claimed by the outlawed Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) which said it would not tolerate “any Chinese military expansionist endeavours on Baloch soil”.
“We have received two dead bodies of policemen and an injured Chinese security guard who is under treatment,” said Seemi Jamali, the executive director at Jinnah Hospital.
Two civilians, a father and his son were also killed.
The heavily-guarded E-Street neighbourhood, which is considered a red zone, is home to a number of upscale restaurants, diplomatic missions and schools.
Nine hand grenades, Kalashnikov assault rifles, magazines and explosives were recovered from the possession of the terrorists, Geo News quoted police officials as saying.
“Food supplies and medicines were also recovered from their possession,” officials said.
Millions of dollars also reported went up in flames as several cars were burnt outside the consulate.
It is the first major terror strike in Karachi since March 2016 when 45 Ismaili Muslims were killed in a targeted attack.
Since then, there had been calm in the country’s financial hub as police and the paramilitary rangers have kept up a constant operation against militants, killing dozens of them in different parts of Karachi.
The attack will leave the government and security forces concerned as the Chinese mission is located in a densely populated area.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter to condemn the attack.
“Strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against Chinese Consulate in Karachi & in Orakzai tribal area. My prayers go to the victims & their families. Salute the brave security/police personnel who gave their lives & denied success to terrorists in the mission against Chinese Consulate,” he said.
“The failed attack against the Chinese Consulate was clearly a reaction to the unprecedented trade agreement that resulted from our trip to China. The attack was intended to scare Chinese investors and undermine CPEC. These terrorists will not succeed,” Khan said.
Several officials reportedly contacted the Chinese consul general and assured him that the situation will be taken under control.
This newspaper recently highlighted the fact that while some countries are regretting the pen used to sign onto the initiative, Guyana recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China, thus making Guyana the 71st country to be listed as part of the initiative.
All the countries that have signed onto the project thus far have something that China wants.
For Pakistan, it’s a route to heighten China’s trade activities.
China has a US$62B plan in the making for Pakistan. It has already pumped several billion dollars into the country through loans over the past three years.
But, with all this money floating around, the people of Pakistan are crying out as they are no better off. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pakistanis are complaining about the shortage of jobs and even basic essentials like drinking water.
Relations between China and Pakistan on this initiative have been described as opaque, corrupt and set only to benefit China and Pakistan’s ruling politicians.
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s recently elected Prime Minister, quoted, “The real reason for building these loss-making megaprojects has always been massive kickbacks.”
On July 22, last, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pakistan’s first metro, the Orange Line, was meant to be an early triumph in China’s quest to supplant U.S. influence and redraw the world’s geopolitical map.
The Journal reported, “Financed and built by Chinese state-run companies, the soon-to-be-finished overhead railway through Lahore City is among the first projects in China’s US$62 billion plan for Pakistan.”
According to the Journal, China hoped the US$2B air-conditioned metro “would help make Pakistan a showcase for its global infrastructure-building spree. Instead, it has become a (symbol) of the troubles that are throwing China’s modern-day Silk Road initiative off course.”
However, it was reported that three years into China’s programme there, Pakistan is heading for a debt crisis, caused in part by a surge in Chinese loans and imports for projects like the Orange Line, which Pakistani officials say will require public subsidies to operate.
Some ministers in the recently replaced government said in interviews that they should have negotiated better terms with China, and been more open about details.
Pakistan is now one of several countries grappling with the financial and political fallout of taking on so much Chinese debt. All these loans given thus far have been contingent on using Chinese contractors.
U.S. officials have called China’s Belt and Road Project, “debt-trap diplomacy.”
The European Union and Indian officials also have stepped up criticisms of the Belt and Road initiative, saying it lacks transparency and sustainability and is designed to expand China’s strategic influence.
With the U.S. freezing all security aid and winding down economic support this year, Pakistani officials now say its financial future lies in emulating China’s emergence as a low-cost manufacturing hub.
Last year, the old Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, was dismissed as prime minister and in July, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for corruption.
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