A sucide bomber killed four in southern Pakistan including 3 Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver on Apirl 26.
AP would report in its article, “Suicide blast in southern Pakistan kills 3 Chinese, driver,” that:
The Baluchistan Liberation Army, a militant group in nearby Baluchistan province, has targeted Chinese nationals in attacks in the past.
The group’s statement that followed Tuesday’s attack identified the bomber as Shari Baluch or Bramsh, saying she was the group’s first female bomber. The attack marks “a new chapter in the history of Baluch resistance,” the statement said.
Baluchistan has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by armed Baluch groups demanding more autonomy and a greater share in the region’s natural resources if not outright independence from Islamabad.
Indeed it is only the latest in a pattern of US-sponsored violence targeting Chinese nationals living and working in Pakistan and fits into a much larger agenda of confronting and confounding China’s rise globally by Washington.
The most recent terrorist attack follows a bombing aimed at China’s representative to Pakistan, Ambassador Nong Rong in April of last year and the killing of 13 people including 9 Chinese engineers a few months later.
All of these attacks have been linked to Baluchistan-based separatists who have been backed by the US government since at least as early as 2011. The goal of supporting separatism in Baluchistan is to raise the costs of or altogether obstruct Chinese-driven development in Pakistan through the extensive China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and in turn, hinder China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) globally.
US Support of Baluchistan Separatism
A US Congress resolution titled, “Expressing the sense of Congress that the people of Baluchistan, currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country,” was introduced in February 2012.
It’s sponsor, US Representative Dana Rohrabacher, would explain his motivations for introducing it in an opinion piece published by the Washington Post titled, “Why I support Baluchistan.”
In it he would claim:
I drafted the measure after a Feb. 8 hearing by the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigations that exposed horrific violations of human rights by Pakistan security forces in Baluchistan. The US State Department, Amnesty International and other human rights groups have verified and denounced the extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, disappearances, illegal detention and torture being used by Pakistani authorities to suppress Baluch aspirations to control their own affairs.
Despite his attempts to cite human rights concerns – these are merely the pretext. He would continue by noting:
Baluchistan is Pakistan’s largest province in area and lies in the south, near Iran and Afghanistan. It is replete with natural resources and treated like a colonial possession. Its natural gas, gold, uranium and copper are exploited for the benefit of the ruling elite in Islamabad; meanwhile, the Baluch people remain desperately poor. The province includes the port of Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea, which China has been developing and may turn into a naval base. The Baluch have been dispossessed of land and fishing as a result, while construction jobs and land grants have gone to Pakistanis from other provinces.
Baluchistan borders Afghanistan and at the time the US was already occupying the Central Asian country for a decade. Washington depended heavily on Pakistan’s cooperation – which it sometimes did not receive – to move troops and supplies into occupied Afghanistan. Rohrabacher even complained about this in his opinion piece and concluded by saying:
Islamabad has not only sheltered al-Qaeda but also provided a base of operations for the Taliban, who continue to kill Americans. With one hand officials thumb their noses at us and with the other hand they grab billions in our foreign aid. It is time Washington stopped aiding Pakistan and developed a closer friendship with India and, perhaps, Baluchistan.
Thus it is obvious there were three actual reasons the US was interested in Baluchistan (punishing Pakistan, blocking Chinese development, and obtaining resources) obscured by a fourth serving as a smokescreen – human rights concerns.
Also during this time, other op-eds across the Western media reinforced this obvious motivation.
The National Interest in a 2011 article titled, “Free Baluchistan,” would shamelessly conclude:
Pakistan has given China a base at Gwadar in the heart of Baluch territory. So an independent Baluchistan would serve U.S. strategic interests in addition to the immediate goal of countering Islamist forces.
Beyond mere rhetorical and legislative support, Baluchistan’s separatists received direct help from the US government through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). To this day the US NED webpage disclosing its programs for Pakistan lists at least 2 programs focused on interfering in Baluchistan’s local political affairs directly amid 27 other programs and organizations funded by the US in Pakistan.
The US NED also includes as a “fellow” Malik Siraj Akbar who oversaw media operations in support of separatism both in Baluchistan itself, and since fleeing Pakistan, from the suburbs of Washington DC.
The pattern matches Washington’s interference and support for violent separatism in China’s western region of Xinjiang. The NED funds a network of organizations working across the US, Europe, and along China’s borders in Central Asian states like Kazakhstan.
In Xinjiang as well, the Western media eagerly reported terrorist attacks while highlighting the government’s inability to address the deteriorating security situation. When China began gaining the upper hand through extensive anti-terrorism programs – the violence was collectively “forgotten” by the Western media and those detained and being deradicalized were instead depicted as political prisoners.
A similar process is taking place in Baluchistan, Pakistan.
With that in mind, China and Pakistan could possiblly address terrorism in the nation’s southwest in a similar manner as was used in Xinjiang – perhaps in a manner even more effective by learning from mistakes made while restoring peace and introducing prosperity to Xinjiang – particularly in regards to countering the West’s information war to complicate deradicalization.
Baluchistan and Xinjiang are just two of many points around the globe the US seeks to stir up violence in its bid to preserve its own global hegemony by dividing and destroying people and regions within the borders of its peers, near-peers, and their allies and partners – particularly China and Russia.
By creating greater public awareness of how the US creates these crises, nations can better explain how and why they are taking measures to resolve them. Only time will tell if Pakistan, possibly with China’s help, can both educate the public regarding why violence continues to target Chinese nationals aiding Pakistan’s development, and work on eliminating it.
Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.