Violence returned to the city as a female suicide bomber killed three Chinese teachers at the Karachi University, in the first major attacks against our allied neighbour this year. The attack was quickly claimed by an outlawed group that has routinely targeted law-enforcement personnel in Balochistan.
The three Chinese nationals were in a minibus when the suicide bomber detonated the bomb outside the gate of a Chinese language institute. The Chinese Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the attack and demanded Pakistan punishes the perpetrators and protects Chinese citizens to prevent such incidents from happening again.
The message directly from Beijing will rattle Pakistani authorities who have vowed to provide justice at any cost. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited the Chinese embassy and instructed to hunt down the culprits. Law enforcement agencies have uncovered how security lapses at the university and lack of arrangements led to the premeditated attack on Chinese nationals.
This is not the first time Baloch militants have attacked Chinese interests in the city. In 2018, the Chinese consulate was brazenly attacked, leaving seven people dead, before being foiled by police. In 2020, the Pakistan Stock Exchange was similarly attacked. The Chinese have also been targeted in other parts of the country where their presence is viewed with suspicion to target development projects.
The incident is gaining traction not because of targeting foreigners but because it was carried out by a female suicide bomber. This is rather unusual and a shift in tactic by the Baloch militants and the first such attack by a woman in the insurgent movements. The tactics to employ a woman in suicide bombings have raised some questions whether the Baloch insurgency is redefining itself. Previously it was the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka who used female suicide bombings such as during the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi. These groups employed suicide bombing for broader strategic goals and now the trend will also be witnessed in the Baloch insurgency.
The state needs to build a new strategy to deal with the conflict. It needs to tackle the issues such as lack of development, cases of missing persons, and social and economic injustices. Violence is reprehensible and must be condemned but it s necessary to ensure that Balochs play a part in the development of the country.