Karachi used to be a hub of major terrorist campaigns waged by religious and political militants on an almost daily basis, but the spree came to a halt after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government in September 2013 launched a crackdown on the perpetrators of such attacks.
In the past year and a half or so, the metropolitan city has seen the foiling of two major terrorist attacks aimed at hurting the country’s economic activities as well as its relations with China, which in partnership with Pakistan is developing a game-changing international business corridor.
The first of those attacks was carried out at the Chinese consulate in November 2018, while the other on Monday, when terrorists targeted the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX).
Neither of those attacks were carried out by Daesh, Al-Qaeda, Taliban or any other splinter or sectarian group. Both of them were by perpetrated by separatist groups active in Balochistan. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) previously targeted Pakistan Army and other state security institutions, but their last two attacks suggest an additional item on their to-do list, namely an attempt to somehow cripple the country’s economic system.
Although both the attacks were foiled by the prompt action of the law enforcement and security agencies, the terrorists still managed to cause some damage, courtesy of their target choices.
The attempt to attack the Chinese consulate on November 23, 2018 was fortunately foiled by the police, who had killed all the terrorists present on the scene. The second attack on Monday by the same nationalist group suggests the presence of the group’s members, supporters and sympathisers in Karachi.
A senior counterterrorism expert believes that the nationalist group of Balochistan is behind Monday’s failed attack on the PSX in Karachi, while the Indian spy agency RAW (Research & Analysis Wing) masterminded the terrorist activity.
“Basically, RAW was the mastermind of both the Chinese consulate and PSX attacks,” Raja Umer Khattab told The News. “Their aim was to damage Pakistan’s image in the world as well as hit the economy of our country.”
Khattab said that RAW orchestrated the entire thing: it planned, funded and ordered the PSX attack for the BLA to carry out. “What did they [the BLA] lose in the attack? Only four of their members. But the attack put them in international news and damaged Pakistan’s image.”
He pointed out the similarities and differences in the Chinese consulate and PSX attacks: “In both the attacks they dispatched four attackers each. But in the former they had suicide bombers and explosives, while in the latter they had grenades, Awan launchers, sub-machine guns, etc.”
The expert said that in the Chinese consulate attack the terrorists had intended to hoist the BLA’s flag at the consulate, but in the PSX attack they had no flag with them.
“Locals are definitely involved, as they gave them [the terrorists] a place to stay and provided them with weapons. Though their recce wasn’t comprehensive, they [the supporters] gave them a good execution plan. All of the planning was done in Balochistan’s Qila Abdullah.”
Khattab said that RAW was operating nationalist groups of both Balochistan and Sindh. He said that Sindh’s groups like Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz, Sindh Liberation Army and Sindh Revolutionary Army were being used for small-scale terror activities while Balochistan’s for large-scale ones.
Sub-Inspector Muhammad Shahid, 54, was among the martyrs of the PSX attack. He had joined the police force in 1987. As his unit was the Court Police, his parent unit was the Sindh Reserve Police. He was presently assigned duty related to the government’s measures against COVID-19.
The policeman was a resident of Lyari’s Chakiwara neighbourhood. His funeral prayers were offered at the Police Headquarters in the Garden area. It was attended by his family members, relatives and friends as well as a large number of police, Rangers and government officials.
Those in attendance included Education Minister Saeed Ghani, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar and Additional IGP Ghulam Nabi Memon. Offering his condolences to the martyr’s family, IGP Mahar lauded the sub-inspector’s sacrifice and announced compensation for his heirs.