The periodicity of terrorist attacks in the country is once again on the rise. After the suicide blast near the Data Darbar in Lahore two attacks has been carried out by out by ethnic Baloch militants in the restive Baluchistan Province. Four gunmen wearing security forces uniform stormed the Pearl Continental Hotel in Gawadar and killed two security guards who tried to prevent them from entering the hotel. Immediately after the attack security forces conducted a successful operation and killed the attackers. All the guests who were inside the building were evacuated safe. Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) Majeed Brigade has claimed the responsibility of the attack. Pearl Continental is the only five star hotel in Gawdar where in foreign and Pakistani business delegations and foreign diplomats stay and dine.
Just two days ago in Harnai district BLA militants attacked a coal mine and killed two Frontier Constabulary personnel, two miners and a driver. In the past few months a number of incidents of terror have occurred in Baluchistan. Both the sectarian militant outfits and Baloch ethnic separatist group have stepped up their militant activities.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has described the Gawdar attack an act to damage the economy and sabotage the process of economic prosperity initiated under the multi-billion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The deep sea port of Gawadar provides China safer and more direct access to the oil exporting Middle East through land route in Pakistan than the fairly long narrow waterway trade route through narrow Malacca Straits. In future the port city will become a gigantic center of international trade and massive foreign investment. Saudi Arabia alone will invest $20 billion in setting up oil city there.
The ethnic separatist organisations are capitalizing on the most oppressive Baloch Sardars’ hostage culture and deep sense of deprivation among the people. The Balochs are misled by the propaganda that CPEC related projects will not bring economic spread effects in terms of employment and trade opportunities rather it will turn the demographic balance in favour of non-Balochs and settlers from other provinces. It was this lethal propaganda which paved the way for the killing and exodus of Punjabis and Urdu speaking settlers from the capital city of Quetta and other areas. The sense of deprivation was further accentuated by the farcical “Aghaz-e-Haqooq Baluchistan Package” of previous PPP government because the money doled out under this package and increased transfer of financial of resources under the 7th NFC Award were embezzled and went to the pockets of Baloch Sardars and top bureaucrats. From the residence of Provincial Secretary Finance Mushtaq Raisani Rs. 600 million were recovered. Some Pukhtun Chieftains also benefited from the misappropriation of public funds. Merely issuance of strongly worded condemnation statements will not change the grim ground realities. The situation can be improved by seriously implementing National Action Plan on national level and economic and administrative measures for poverty alleviation in Baluchistan.