OPED by R C GANJOO
The attack on a convoy of 23 Chinese engineers on August 13, including one van and three SUVs, all bullet-proof vehicles, left two militants killed in the port city of Gwadar.
Two Pakistani soldiers suffered injuries, and one in critical condition was executed by the Majeed Brigade suicide squad of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) active in Balochistan.
Jeeyand Baloch, spokesman of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), claimed at least four Chinese nationals and 11 Pakistani military personnel were killed, with several others injured.
A day after, the BLA also announced the completion of the third phase of its “Operation Zir Pehazag” and gave 90 days ultimatum to Beijing to vacate the place and shut China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) region or prepare for intensified attacks in the region.
According to media reports, nearly 3,829 officers and personnel of the Special Protection Unit (SPU) of Pakistan, along with 2,552 attached security personnel from districts, are providing security to 7,567 Chinese working at four CPEC and 27 non-CPEC projects in the Balochistan province.
They also provide security to the Chinese residing at 70 residential and 24 camps in the province. Many Chinese are working in Gwadar, the port in the restive Balochistan province, which is linked to China’s Xinjiang province as part of the US$60 billion (CPEC).
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, since its launch on April 20, 2015, by President Xi Jinping, initially earmarked a US$46 billion investment for the project with its target date of completion by 2030.
Since the initial announcement, the amount has increased a few times already, and as of 2022, Chinese total investment has reached US $65 billion. After its completion, CPEC will contribute 20% to Pakistan’s GDP.
Hammal Rehan Baloch is the Majeed Brigade’s operational chief. It is a suicide squad of BLA. The first suicide attack was executed in December 2011. After seven years, the suicide attack was on a bus carrying Chinese engineers targeted in Dalbadin in August 2018.
Majeed Brigade suicide bombers also hit the Chinese Consulate in Karachi on November 23, 2018, Gwadar’s Pearl Continental Hotel on May 11, 2019, and the Pakistan Stock Exchange on June 29, 2020.
The strength of BLA is estimated at 1,000 to 1,500 fighters, while the Majeed Brigade has 100 to 150 members in its ranks, including women. The Majeed Brigade has three units: logistics, which handles the transportation and deployment of suicide bombers before any attack; intelligence, which selects targets and conducts reconnaissance; and operations, which recruits and trains suicide bombers.
The Majeed Brigade collects funds from Baloch dissidents and diaspora living in Europe, North America, and the Middle East through Hawala (an informal method of transferring money without the movement of cash) and Hundi (an informal written pay order made by a party directing another person to pay a certain amount to a party named in the order).
The Majeed Brigade is well-armed and possesses high-grade weapons, including improvised explosive devices (IED), anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, grenades, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and various automatic weapons like M4 rifles as well as BM-12, 107MM, 109MM type rockets.
The Majeed Brigade militants have access to sophisticated explosives like C4 for making suicide vests. Although the Majeed Brigade is fast becoming a more lethal arm of the BLA, being a BLA member is not a prerequisite to joining the Majeed Brigade. Insurgents from other Baluch separatist organizations who volunteer for suicide terrorism can join the Majeed Brigade.
As per Majeed Brigade’s recruitment policy, the minimum age of the suicide bomber is 18. Majeed Brigade bombers’ modus operandi is different from other jihadist organizations. The volunteers are not kept in isolation before their attacks. In contrast, they have the freedom to meet their families and friends.
Furthermore, suicide bombers also select their targets and plan their attacks. For the Majeed Brigade, each suicide attack has three stages and goals. When a suicide bomber blows him or herself up, the political objective is achieved, as it earns publicity for the group by highlighting the Baluch insurgent movement.
On the other hand, the attacks on the Pakistan Stock Exchange attack in Karachi or at various CPEC projects in Balochistan were targeted for their economic significance.
Motivation Behind Balochistan Insurgency
Hyrbyair Marri is the chief of the Free Balochistan Movement (FBM), the main demagogue based in the UK. Hyrbyair Marri doctrine propagates that China is actively guiding and backing Iran and Pakistan against the Baloch people, as China has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in both parts of occupied Balochistan.
China finds the Baloch to be the biggest hurdle to its investment in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as Balochistan is situated at a globally strategic location, which China is exploiting without the permission of the Baloch and at the expense of Baloch’s livelihood.
According to him, China and Pakistan have displaced thousands of Baloch families from the CPEC route and Gwadar port areas and erected fences around Gwadar city and port areas.
Pakistan established several hundreds of checkpoints along the CPEC route and in Gwadar to protect China’s interests and prevent Baloch from entering the city.
Apartheid Of Baloch At China’s Behest
He says the recent so-called counter-terrorism meeting is another conspiracy of China, Iran, and Pakistan to collude and intensify the loot and plunder of Balochistan’s natural resources, destroy the Baloch nation, and suppress the just movement of Baloch people for their freedom.
It is alarming and a wake-up call for the Baloch nation, and every Baloch should know that none of these three axes of evil can be sympathizers and well-wishers of the Baloch nation. Among them is an expansionist China, with a track record of encroaching into other countries such as Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong.
Even UN Human Rights officials have raised serious concerns about the detention of the one million Uyghur population that has been kept in concentration camps. China has been blackmailing and using its power and money by taking ports from poor nations – their presence is ubiquitous from Asia and Africa to Latin America, to fulfill its expansionist desires.
China has now taken over as the new helmsman in the Baloch genocide, instructing that these two occupiers, Iran and Pakistan, eradicate the Baloch nation and bring about a demographic change to make space for the Chinese and Punjabi. Now that the Chinese are directly involved in Balochistan’s decimation and destruction, it is easier for the Baloch people to show the world that China is not the peaceful nation it claims to be.
FBM’s goal is to highlight China’s intention to make Gwadar an integral part of strengthening its ‘String of Pearls’ strategy and make Gwadar a part of their heinous plans for global domination.
Politically, the project has no support. Astonishingly, the former chief minister and Balochistan National Party (M) Sardar Akhtar Mengal raised questions about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and how the project would benefit the people of Balochistan.
- R. C. Ganjoo is a senior journalist and columnist having more than 30 years experience of covering issues concerning national security, particularly Kashmir.
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