Raging insurgency in Balochistan and suicide bombings in Pakistan on the rise: Know its causes and history

Raging insurgency in Balochistan and suicide bombings in Pakistan on the rise: Know its causes and history

On March 27, 1948, Pakistan annexed the Baloch state, giving rise to a long-running insurgency

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, March 06, 2023, 07:48 PM IST
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Monday's suicide bombing killing at least nine police officers in Pakistan's insurance-hit Balochistan has once again put the spotlight on its pushback against the China-Pakistan corridor and its larger struggle for freedom. 

The latest deadly incident occurred after a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a police truck in Sibi, a city that is 160 km away from Balochistan's capital Quetta. 

Though no group has immediately claimed the responsibility for Monday's attack, media reports point towards Baloch guerrillas, a group known for fighting with the government for decades, accusing it of exploiting Balochistan's rich gas and mineral resources. 

In 2022, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in which a burqa-clad Baloch woman killed four people, including three Chinese nationals as she targeted a minibus carrying staff from China-built Confucius Institute at Karachi university.

Balochistan and its history

Rich in natural resources, Balochistan is Pakistan's largest and poorest province. On March 27, 1948, Pakistan annexed the Baloch state, giving rise to a long-running insurgency.

Since then, over the years, global media reports have pointed towards extrajudicial killings of hundreds of political activists and armed separatists by Pakistani security agencies 

Though the situation has gotten worse fulled by the exploitation of resources and oppression of people, Pakistan has blamed India and Iran for the deteriorating state of Balochistan. Indian and Iran have time and again rejected their claims. 

Eergence of China in Balochistan 

China is interested in Balochistan's copper, gold, gas and coal deposits. In 2015 as part of its global development strategy china announced China Pakistan Economic Corridor, an infrastructure network linking a port in Balochistan's Gwadar to China's western Xinjiang region. 

CPEC, part of China's Belt and Road (BRI) initiative includes plans to build road, rail, and oil pipelines as Beijing strives to expand its dominance over Central and South Asia and counter America and India's influence in the region.

Thousands of Chinese workers are working in Pakistan on many different CPEC-related projects and many of them are in Balochistan where separatists accuse Islamabad of exploiting its local resources to help China flex its muscles. China's CPEC has also drawn criticism from India, as well as many other nations including America. 

India has repeatedly objected to CPEC projects passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) and asked China and Pakistan to not alter the status quo in the regions illegally occupied by Pakistan.

Why local resistance?

Baloch separatists have opposed the infrastructural projects in the regions saying that they are not benefited from them as most new jobs have gone to outsiders while locals are struggling to make ends meet.

As per media reports, BLA has warned China many times to stop looting Balcoh resources. In a statement, BLA said, “Targeting the director and officials of the Confucius Institute, the symbol of Chinese economic, cultural and political expansionism, was to give a clear message to China that its direct or indirect presence in Balochistan will not be tolerated."

It has also warned China to refrain from aiding Pakistan military and financially in carrying out the "Baloch genocide."

What lies ahead? 

After the last year's attack which Pakistan dubbed "a direct attack on Pakistan-China friendship," BLA has threatened bigger attacks on Chinese nationals and China's interest in Balochistan.

BLA has asked China to immediately halt its projects as hundreds of trained BLA members are ready to carry out deadly attacks in a major pushback. It has asked Pakistan to withdraw from Balochistan and recognise its independence. 

Looking at the volatile situation in the region and Pakistan and China's unabated growing dominance Balochistan may witness more such deadly attacks in the coming time. It is clear that Pakistan can no longer consider the Baloch insurgency as a low-intensity conflict.

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