Karachi was rocked by a blast that took place in the city on April 26, killing four people. The total fatalities also include three Chinese nationals and the attack took place near the Chinese language centre at the University of Karachi. Soon after, China demanded that Pakistan make "more efforts to protect the safety of Chinese institutions, projects and personnel in Pakistan, and make those organisations understand that those who try to hurt them will only bring destruction to themselves."
As the days progressed, the details about the attack were revealed. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility as they sent their first-ever woman suicide bomber named Shari Baloch or Bramsh. In a statement published online, the banned organisation stated that the attack marks "a new chapter in the history of Baloch resistance."
Balochistan Conflict - Longstanding Agitation In Pakistan
For the uninitiated, Balochistan is one of the four provinces in Pakistan that borders countries like Afghanistan and Iran. It is the largest province in the nation and it boasts natural resources such as oil, gas, gold and copper. Also, the province's population is 1.3 crore, which is nearly 7% of Pakistan's total population. Both strategically and historically, it plays an integral part in the country's various dynamics.
Despite being bestowed with such abundance, Balochistan is Pakistan's least prosperous province. Adding to this, there is a lack of political autonomy that is majorly controlled by the government. Therefore, this has given rise to a conflict against the country itself, with Baloch separatists fighting for control of their land. According to Wikipedia, they maintain that they are economically marginalised by the Pakistani government and are poorer compared to the other provinces.
Balochistan Liberation Army
At the helm of it all is the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Seen as a terrorist organisation, they are banned in Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States. They rose to prominence in 2000 and spearheaded the agitation against the Pakistani authorities, known for attacking government officials and security forces as a mark of protest.
The Baloch nationalists blame Pakistan for the atrocities inflicted by them. According to The Quint, the country's security forces are accused of illegally detaining 19,000 men, women and children. Several of them have been subjected to rape and eventually killed. However, the BLA has allegedly been involved in blatant attacks on the non-Baloch communities living in the province.
Not just the Pakistani forces, the recent instances also include BLA attacking Chinese nationals and institutions in Pakistan. It attacked the Chinese consulate in 2018. In 2021, 13 people were killed in an explosion that targeted a bus travelling to a hydropower plant in Northern Pakistan. Out of them, nine were Chinese nationals in the engineering team. The year before that, an attack was launched at the Pakistan Stock Exchange to 'retaliate' against China's exploitative plans in their region.
Therefore, the Balochistan Liberation Army has targeted Chinese nationals to prove a point. Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), many of its projects are located in the region, including the strategically important Gwadar port. With the country ignoring their appeals of not getting into deals for projects in Balochistan, the BLA decided to go down this route to make themselves heard.