Quantifying Attacks Against Chinese Citizens In Pakistan: What Does Orthodox Theory Say? – OpEd


Pakistan remains in a state of security. Besides the arduous struggle against counterterrorism and mitigating tension in its largest province, Balochistan remains mired in threats from terrorist outfits.

The overall surge in terrorism and extremism, even though it is being observed after the Taliban’s takeover in neighboring Afghanistan, Balochistan has remained a center for successionist factions from the inception of the country.

However, covering all of these terrorist threats goes beyond the scope of this article, which focuses on quantifying attacks on Chinese citizens in Pakistan after 2013. After the initiation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of the BRI, terrorist threats has increased in the centralities of Balochistan. This study looks into the minor details of all these incidents to analyze the tactics and motivations behind these terrorist attacks against Chinese citizens and the conclusions drawn from them. 

Attack datePlaceTargetTacticsCasualtiesInjuries ResponsibilityIdeological Affiliation of culprits
23 June 2013Gilgit BaltistanForeign touristsKidnapped and ambushedThree Ukrainians, two Slovaks, one Lithuanian, one Nepali,  three Chinese, and one local guide One Chinese climber escapedTTP and JundullahJundullah is an anti-Shia militant group operating from Baluchistan, while TTP is an anti-Pakistan terrorist organization.
30 May 2016KarachiChinese Engineer Roadside bomb explosionnilOne Chinese engineer and his driverSindhudesh Revolutionary ArmySRA is a successionist organization that operates against the federation. The note at the incident stated, “we will oppose very anti-Sindh project including the CPEC.”
24 May 2017QuettaChinese nationalsKidnapped and killedTwo Chinese nationalsOne passerby Islamic State in BaluchistanIS in Baluchistan works with other militant groups like LeJ and BLA in conducting anti-Pakistan activities including killing foreigners, security personals as well as Shias.
11 August 2018Dalbandin, BaluchistanChinese workersSuicide Bombing One bomberFive including three Chinese workersBLA (Rehan Baloch was the elder son of BLA’s senior commander Aslam Baloch) BLA is a separatist organization that carries out operations against security forces, government officials, and foreigners especially Chinese workers
23 November 2018Chinese consulate, Clifton, KarachiChinese officialsAssault Three terrorists two visa applicants, and two police personalnilBLA (Azal Khan Baloch, Razik Baloch, Rais Baloch)
11 May 2019Pearl Continental Hotel, Gwadar, BaluchistanChinese officialsAssaultOne security guard, one navy soldier, three hotel employees, and three militantsTwo army captains, two soldiers, and two hotel employeesBLA (Hammal Fateh Baloch alias Habib, Asad Baloch alias Mehrab, Munseb Baloch alias Kareem, Kachkol Baloch alias Commando)
14 July 2021Dasu hydropower project, Kohistan, KPKChinese workersSuicide bombingThirteen including nine Chinese workers and two army soldiers
Islamic State, while Pakistan FM accused TTP which the group denied
28 July 2021KarachiChinese nationalsAssaultOne ChineseTwo peoplenone
20 August 2021Gwadar, BaluchistanChinese nationalsSuicide bombingA suicide bomber and two childrenThree peopleBLA
26 April 2022Karachi UniversityChinese teachersSuicide bombingFemale bomber, three Chinese language teachers, and their Pakistani driverFour passersbyBLA Shari Baloch

Matusitz has described fifteen reasons behind the acts of terrorism. It will be an exaggeration to go into the details of all but some causes relevant to the case study. From the very inception of Pakistan, successionist factions began to promulgate their desire to create an independent Balochistan.

More than five ways of insurgencies have been observed in the province, consecutively. However, the current wave of secessionism differs slightly in terms of tactics and motivation. The orthodox theory of terrorism explains that there are three reasons why a particular terrorist act is being carried out: functional, symbolic, and tactical. Terrorists outfitting BLA, SRA, and many other sub-outfits have the vision to coerce the government to reform their provinces and halt Chinese investments in their provinces. 

Functionally, the Chinese are killed because these outfits consider themselves relatively deprived, oppressed, and lack conventional channels of expression, and communication.

Rehan Baloch, the son of Aslam Baloch, the senior commander of BLA said before his suicide adventure on a Chinese bus, “With China’s help, Pakistan has intensified its offensive against Baloch nation and thousands have been killed and their villages destroyed in Pakistani military operations. Through this act, I want to make China and its people realize that whosoever will try to meddle in Baloch issues without Baloch nations’ consent, will face the wrath of Baloch nation”.

The official Telegram website of BLA also says that the organization’s struggle against the state will continue until Chinese investment and Pakistan’s military goes out of the province. Symbolically, it is to show that if Baloch people are not taken on board, no investment or government interest will be fulfilled through the province. Tactically, these terrorist outfits have pursued short-term gains so far. Tactics such as suicide bombings, assaults, and other strategies show that BLA and SRA have been very smart in choosing their objectives. In this particular case of attacks against the Chinese, they do not have to wait for years or months to meet their demands. They just want to get the Chinese out. 

This has put Pakistan in much trouble. China is being observed as reluctant to invest further as threats continue.

The Pakistani government and military had been trying to use both soft and hard power mean to cater to these terrorist threats, but little has been achieved. If these threats continue, China will reconsider investing in Baluchistan’s Gwadar. Ultimately, the long-awaited development for the Balochi nation would just banish in the hands of these terrorist outfits because no other nation is so far willing to come to Pakistan for investing. 

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