Karachi is a long way from Balochistan and not merely in terms of distance. Monday’s terrorist outrage at the Pakistan Stock Exchange in the Sindh capital has been an attack on the country’s economic nerve-centre. The country is no stranger to the bedlam and butchery perpetrated by terrorists, and the stock exchange attack has been attributed to the outfit called the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).
Though confirmation must await a more incisive investigation than has been attempted, it would be presumptuous to jump to the conclusion, in the manner of the Sindh Rangers, that this terrorist incident could not have taken place “without the help of an outside agency. And among them, RAW’s frustration is apparent to all”.
The allusion to India is no less apparent, and without a scintilla of credible evidence. By that token, the souring of bilateral relations is likely to intensify. The fact that the incident happened when trading was in full swing on Monday morning does point to an intelligence failure. The attack bore similarities to an offensive on the Chinese consulate in Karachi that was carried out by BLA militants in 2018.
An almost riveting obsession with the hand of India will not take the probe very far. Of far greater moment is the manner in which the Balochistan Liberation Army has been extending its tentacles from the rugged terrain to Pakistan’s commercial hub. Given the country’s stuttering economy, an outrage on the premier stock exchange can destabilise the fiscal barometer further still.
Particularly vitriolic was the response of Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who suggested that India was involved in the deadly attack, recalling his statement after an attack in Waziristan that India had activated its “sleeper cells” in the country. The circumstances of today’s attack, if examined, “will lead to the same sleeper cells”, he claimed.
“India cannot tolerate peace in Pakistan,” the minister said, adding that India was involved in the attack on Pakistani troops as well. India, he said, was being “exposed” before the world, through its confrontation with China in Ladakh and its oppression of people in what he called “India-occupied Kashmir”. No such sniper attack on India marked the reaction of Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who paid tribute to the Pakistan Stock Exchange security guards “who sacrificed their lives as first responders vigilantly checking terrorists’ entry to PSX and foiling a major terrorist incident”.
The terrorists were eliminated in the “shortest possible time”. On closer reflection, the terrorist outrage could have been more destructive than it was. The seizures confirm a carefully coordinated offensive in a high security zone not the least because the attackers were armed with grenades and automatic rifles. Using India as the punching bag will once again deflect the focus of the bedlam and butchery. There is a degree of bankruptcy in Pakistan’s diplomacy.