The year 2020 has not been good for the citizens of Karachi in terms of peace, as the city suffered several acts of terrorism after the activation of sleeper cells of different militant organisations, while the law enforcement agencies are yet to solve these cases and bring the groups behind all the violence to justice.
The brazen attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) aiming to hurt the country’s economy as well as its relations with China, which has been developing a game-changing international business corridor in partnership with Pakistan, was a major terror attack to have occurred in Karachi on June 29.
The attack was carried out by a nationalist party of Balochistan that is funded by the Indian spy agency Research & Analysis Wing, which is more commonly known by its acronym RAW. Four people were killed after gunmen stormed the PSX compound. Four gunmen attempted to attack the stock exchange building, firing indiscriminately as they got out of their car and charging towards a security barrier at the entrance.
Two attackers were killed at that barrier, while the other two were shot dead in an exchange of fire with security officials in the compound’s parking lot. Three private security guards and a police officer were killed by the gunmen. At least seven people were wounded in the attack. The attackers had also been carrying hand grenades.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a terrorist organisation that has links with not only India but also some elements in Afghanistan, had claimed responsibility for the attack. But the PSX attack was not the only case of terrorism in Karachi this year. The murder of a religious scholar and several attacks on Rangers and police officials also disrupted the peace of the city. The law enforcement agencies, however, have failed to solve these cases and arrest the masterminds or even the key suspects of these incidents.
On October 10, the Sunni sect’s religious scholar Maulana Prof Dr Muhammad Adil Khan and his driver were murdered in Shah Faisal Colony when the attackers opened fire on the scholar’s double-cabin vehicle.
Dr Khan, head of the Jamia Farooqia seminary, had been on his way home in the Hub River Road area from Darul Uloom in Korangi when he had come under attack.
“Both these major incidents of terrorism are linked to those that have occurred in Karachi over the previous years, but the investigators have failed to solve the past cases and bust the groups responsible,” said a senior police officer.
“Had the investigators succeeded in solving the previous cases, there might have been a lower possibility of more terrorism in the city. And since this year’s terror cases also remain unsolved, it is feared that more incidents of terrorism might be in store next year.”
The PSX attack has been linked to the Chinese consulate attack of November 2018, and Dr Khan’s assassination has been linked to at least two attacks that have been carried out on Sunni religious leaders over the past few years.
On February 15, 2015, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat chief Maulana Aurangzaib Farooqi came under attack in District Korangi during the wee hours and survived the attempt on his life.
On March 22, 2019, Jamia Darul Uloom Karachi’s Mufti Taqi Usmani was on his way to deliver the Friday sermon at Jamia Masjid Baitul Mukarram on University Road when two motorbike pillion riders fired at his car on the ramp of the Nipa flyover.
Mufti Usmani and his family, all of whom were in the back seat, survived the attack, but their police guard Muhammad Farooq and driver Habib were killed.
“Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies were only able to trace and arrest the facilitators of these cases, encouraging key operatives and masterminds of foreign-funded militant and nationalist organisations to continue to remain active in Karachi,” said another senior police officer.
Two more major terror incidents were carried out in the city just this month: in one, terrorists attempted to blow up a vehicle of a Chinese national in the upmarket Clifton neighbourhood, and in the other, a hand grenade explosion injured four people, including two Rangers soldiers, just outside the University of Karachi.
Officials suspect that both incidents are connected to the previous incidents of terrorism believed to have been carried out by the RAW-funded Balochistan Liberation Army and Sindh Revolutionary Army (SRA).
Apart from terrorism, the city has also witnessed over half a dozen cases of other attacks that were carried out on police and Rangers officials. However, though the investigators have accused the SRA for attacking Rangers officials, they have failed to trace and arrest the key suspects responsible.
Moreover, cases of target killings of policemen also remain unsolved, despite the fact that for the first time in seven years, the banned terrorist organisation Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the murders.