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Bloodbath: Chronological Timeline of Balochistan’s Major Terror Incidents

Balochistan, one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the southwestern region of the country is a hotspot for violent activities involving terrorist groups and security personnel

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Women in Balochistan. Wikimedia
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November 17, 2016: Terrorists have slaughtered more than 30 citizens of the Khuzdar district of Balochistan which has already been struck by violence over linguistic and sectarian differences for over 200 times within the last 15 years in Pakistan. These attacks were probably in retaliation for the murder of Saqib alias Arif, a Tehrik-e-Taliban terrorist by the Sindh Rangers in Hub. This incident occurred the day after the assassination of Arif and hours before the inauguration of the Gwadar port  by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and  Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and some eminent Chinese guests.

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This attack was probably in retaliation for the murder of Saqib alias Arif, a Tehrik-e-Taliban terrorist by the Sindh Rangers in Hub. It was after the assassination of Arif and hours before the inauguration of the Gwadar port  by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and some eminent Chinese guests.

Saqib alias Arif was accused of many terror attacks, such as the trap set up for former Karachi corps commander, Gen Ahsan Saleem’s conveyance , suicide and murder attacks on Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Bilal Sheikh respectively.

Terrorism in this southwestern region of Pakistan is prevalent and has robbed families and individuals of their lives. People from various sects have given up their lives since a long time. These victims do not include the civilians but also many government officials, minorities, judges, police.

The following lists the occurrences of major terrorist incidents in Balochistan, this year:

  • October 24, 2016: Militants stormed a police training centre in Quetta and killed at least 60 cadets.
  • August 8, 2016: Bilal Anwar Kasi , the president of Balochistan Bar Association was shot dead by a gunman. People gathered at the hospital in Quetta after his body was brought in. Later, the hospital was attacked and over 70 to 95 people were killed including a large number of lawyers.
  • June 16, 2016: The Counter Terrorism Department with the assistance of the intelligence agencies apprehended Khaliq Dad, a commander of a forbidden outfit in Quetta. Khaliq, who was captured in Nawakali, is said to be the brains behind many terrorist activities.

At least five supposed terrorists were killed by armed security forces around Quetta on June 14, 2016.

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Sarfraz Bugti, Balochistan’s Home Minister declared the arrest of an Indian navy officer serving his country’s intelligence organization, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) on 24 March 2016.

While making this statement, Bugti revealed that the RAW officer, Kalbhushan Yadav was captured three days prior and was in touch with Baloch separatists and other religious bodies.

  • February 16, 2016: A suicide bombing killed at least 10 people after smashing into a patrolling vehicle of the Frontier Corps in Quetta.
  • January 13, 2016: an explosion near a Quetta polio center killed at least 15 people and left several others injured.

The following is a chronology of some heinous incidents since 2003 up to 2015 that hit Balochistan.

2003:

  • June 8: Around 11 police trainees belonging to the Hazara Shia sect were killed in a sectarian strike at Quetta’s Sariab Road.
  • July 4: Another attack on a Shia mosque killed around 50 people in Quetta.

2004:

  • March 2: A Shia procession was attacked and nearly 45 people were killed.
  • May 3: A car bomb claimed the lives of three Chinese engineers in Gwadar and on August 2, the then Prime Minister of Balochistan, Jam Yousaf escaped an attack on his convoy.
  • December 10: The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) killed at leat 10 people in an explosion in a Quetta market.

2005:

  • March 19: Over 35 were killed at the shrine of Pir Rakhel Shah in Jhal Magsi when a suicide bomber targeted a crowd of Shia and Deobandi devotees.

2006:

  • February 5: A Lahore-bound bus from Quetta exploded in Bolan district killing 13 people.
  • March 10: 30 people were killed after a bus triggered a landmine in Dera Bugti.

Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed in a crossfire between the tribal militants and the government forces in Balochistan. At least 5 soldiers and 30 militants lost their lives too.

  • August 26-31: Bugti’s death caused riots which left scores of people arrested and injured in just five days.

2007:

  • February 17: A suicide bombing in a Quetta court killed 15 people including the judge.
  • July 19: An attack targeted at Chinese workers killed around 26 people at Hub in the Lasbela district.
  • July 27: Raziq Bugti, a spokesperson for the Balochistan government who was a former guerrilla commander was killed in Quetta.

2009:

  • January 26: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi allegedly shot the chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party, Hussain Ali Yousafi
  • August 4: Baloch separatists killed 4 policemen and held 21 hostages and demanded the withdrawal of the paramilitary troops and the release of the government’s detainees.
  • October 25: The Punjab-born Balochistan Education Minister and a local PPP loyal, Shafiq Ahmed Khan, was killed in Quetta.
  • November 17: A blast in Quetta seriously wounded the DIG Nizam Shahid Durrani.

2010:

  • April 16: at least 10 were killed in a suicide bombing at a hospital in Quetta.
  • July 14: Habib Jalib, a former senator and nationalist leader of the Balochistan National Party in Quetta was assassinated by unidentified gunmen.
  • August 14: At least 10 people were killed in militant attacks in Balochistan.
  • September 3: An alleged suicide bombing killed 75 in a Shia rally at Quetta’s Meezan Chowk.
  • November 30: The convoy of Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi, the then Balochistan governor was attacked in Mungichar but Magsi managed to escape.
  • December 7: An unsuccessful attempt at the assassination of the then Balochistan Chief Minister, Asla Raisani by a suicide bomber killed around two people.

2011:

  • April 26: Four men riding on motorcycles open fired on a bus, then splashed petrol on the bus and set it ablaze, incinerating the people inside the bus.
  • June 16: Unidentified men on a motorcycle shoot the Olympian, Abrar Hussain dead outside his office near Quetta’s Ayub National Stadium.
  • August 31: A bombing outside a mosque in Quetta on Eid-ul-Fitr killed a dozen Shia Muslims.
  • September 7: At least 26 people died in two explosions in Quetta.
  • September 20: At least 26 Shia Muslims were killed when armed militants attacked their bus heading towards Taftan.
  • November 21: BLA attacked a Frontier Corps convoy near Musa Khel and killed at least 14 soldiers.
  • December 29: Two attackers fired on the vehicle of Dr. Syed Baqir Shah a police surgeon in Quetta who was a key witness in the controversial Kharotabad incident. Dr. Shah had performed the autopsies of five foreigners, two of them were women. They were shot by security personnel in Kharotabad on May 2011.
  • December 20: A suicide bombing by BLA killed 13 people in Quetta.

2012:

  • January 12: The Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) assailants ambushed paramilitary troops around Turbat and killed 14 soldiers.
  • June 7: A remote-controlled bomb exploded to kill 15 outside a madrasa in Quetta.
  • June 18: Dozens were killed when a bus transporting Shias was bombed in Quetta.
  • June 28: A suicide attacker killed around 14 people after targeting a bus of Hazara Shias in Quetta.
  • July 6: Around 18 Shia pilgrims were killed while traveling to Iran in Turbat.
  • July 8: A landmine blast in Chaman killed at least 14 people.
  • August 27: Eight people were killed when gunmen attacked two buses in Balochistan on the same day as three Shias were shot down in Quetta.
  • August 30: Zulfiqar Naqvi, a Shia session’s judge was gunned down along with his driver and a police bodyguard at Munir Mengal Road in Quetta.
  • October 12: A bomb explosion near a restaurant on Nishtar Road in Sibi killed a dozen people. Three security personnel died when their vehicle hit a landmine.
  • November 2: Unidentified gunmen open fired at a bus in Khuzdar and killed 18 people.
  • November 6: An eminent Shia leader, Agha Aftab Haider Zafri was shot dead in Quetta. On the same day, four people were shot in different incidents in Quetta out of which three were Shias.

2013:

  • January 10: Two bomb blasts killed at least 105 people on Alamdar Road in Quetta. Many of the casualties were caused when the media and security personnel were arriving at the scene after the first blast. The area bombed was a Shia locality.
  • February 16: At least 92 people were killed in a sectarian suicide attack at a Quetta market targeting the Shias primarily.
  • March 22: A motorcycle-rickshaw exploded in a Dehra Allahyar town market killing at least 10 people.
  • April 16: At least four people were killed in Khuzdar district including the son, nephew and brother of Sanaullah Zehri, the provincial chief of the PML-N and the current Chief Minister of the province.
  • May 11: An attack on the convoy of an election candidate on the polling day in Naseerabad killed at least 15 people.
  • May 12: A suicide attack was attempted on the then Balochistan IGP and current Punjab Police Chief , Mushtaq Sukhera in the high-security zone On Quetta’s Zarghoon Road. Although, he narrowly escaped around seven others lost their lives. Two days before this incident, assailants blew up Quaid-e-Azam’s residency in Ziarat and attacked a bus of female students from a Quetta medical college.
  • June 15: At least 25 people were killed as a bomb ripped a bus apart, succeeded by a suicide attack and a gun battle at the Bola Medical College Hospital where the injured victims were admitted for treatment. The victims in the bus included the deputy commissioner of Quetta, Mansoor Kakar, 14 students of Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University and four nurses. Assistant commissioner Anwar Ali along with two other police officials had suffered bullet wounds.
  • August 18: DIG Fayyaz Sumbal and DSP Shamsur Rehman, were fatally attacked by terrorists in Balochistan’s capital but they managed to dodge death. the then CCPO Quetta Mir Zubair was also accompanying IGP Mushtaq Sukhera.The suicide attacker was actually targeting  funeral being held for a police official in Quetta.  As a result, around 40 were killed.
  • September 18: SP Sariab Basheer Ahmed Barohi survived an attempt on his life after his official vehicle was fired at by anonymous gunmen.

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2014:

  • January 21: A bomb explosion on a bus killed 21 Shia pilgrims.
  • June 8: A bus carrying Shia pilgrims from Iran to Quetta was attacked and at least 24 people were killed.
  • June 14: Handery Masih, a minority member of the Balochistan Assembly was assassinated by his own guard in Quetta
  • June 20: Sakhi Sultan, an environmental judge was gunned down in the Jinnah Town are of Quetta.
  • August 15: At least 13 militants tried to attack two Pakistan Air Force bases in Quetta, Samungli and Khalid, The security officials foiled the attack and a dozen militants were killed.
  • November: An explosion killed one and injured 20 while targeting ATC judge Nazeer Ahmed Langov in Quetta.

2015:

  • April 11: 20 laborers were gunned down in Turbat by militants.
  • May 29: Assailants clad in uniforms of security personnel gunned down 22 bus passengers in Mastung.
  • October 19: A bomb explosion in a bus in Quetta killed 11 and injured 22 people.

– by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram. Twitter: @Shivam_Thaker

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Pakistan Fears Economic Turmoil, Re-thinks ‘Silk Road’ Project With China

In 2017, Pakistan turned down Chinese funding for a $14 billion mega-dam project in the Himalayas because of cost concerns.

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Pakistan
A man passes through a railing while others board a train as they make their way home at the Cantonment railway station in Karachi, Pakistan. VOA

After lengthy delays, an $8.2 billion revamp of a colonial-era rail line snaking from the Arabian Sea to the foothills of the Hindu Kush has become a test of Pakistan ’s ability to rethink signature Chinese “Silk Road” projects because of debt concerns.

The rail megaproject linking the coastal metropolis of Karachi to the northwestern city of Peshawar is China’s biggest Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project in Pakistan, but Islamabad has balked at the cost and financing terms.

Resistance has stiffened under the new government of populist Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has voiced alarm about rising debt levels and says the country must wean itself off foreign loans.

“We are seeing how to develop a model so the government of Pakistan wouldn’t have all the risk,” Khusro Bakhtyar, minister in Pakistan’s planning ministry, told reporters recently.

Pakistan
Visitors read instruction material about land that was reclaimed from the Indian Ocean for the Colombo Port City project, on the Galle Face sea promenade in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 2, 2018. The Port City project was initiated as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. VOA

Unease elsewhere

The cooling of enthusiasm for China’s investments mirrors the unease of incoming governments in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Maldives, where new administrations have come to power wary of Chinese deals struck by their predecessors.

Pakistan’s new government had wanted to review all BRI contracts. Officials say there are concerns the deals were badly negotiated, too expensive or overly favored China.

But to Islamabad’s frustration, Beijing is only willing to review projects that have not yet begun, three senior government officials have told Reuters.

China’s Foreign Ministry said, in a statement in response to questions faxed by Reuters, that both sides were committed to pressing forward with BRI projects, “to ensure those projects that are already built operate as normal, and those which are being built proceed smoothly.”

Pakistani officials say they remain committed to Chinese investment but want to push harder on price and affordability, while re-orientating the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), for which Beijing has pledged about $60 billion in infrastructure funds, to focus on projects that deliver social development in line with Khan’s election platform.

Pakistan
China’s ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, Islamabad. VOA

‘Mutual consultation’

China’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, told Reuters that Beijing was open to changes proposed by the new government and “we will definitely follow their agenda” to work out a roadmap for BRI projects based on “mutual consultation.”

“It constitutes a process of discussion with each other about this kind of model, about this kind of roadmap for the future,” Yao said.

Beijing would only proceed with projects that Pakistan wanted, he added.

“This is Pakistan’s economy, this is their society,” Yao said.

IMF bailout likely

Islamabad’s efforts to recalibrate CPEC are made trickier by its dependence on Chinese loans to prop up its vulnerable economy.

Growing fissures in relations with the United States, Pakistan’s historic ally, have also weakened the country’s negotiating hand, as has a current account crisis likely to lead to a bailout by the International Monetary Fund, which may demand spending cuts.

“We have reservations, but no other country is investing in Pakistan. What can we do?” one Pakistani minister told Reuters.

Pakistan
Laborers dig the ground before replacing concrete sleepers along railway tracks in Karachi, Pakistan. VOA

Crumbling railways

The ML-1 rail line is the spine of country’s dilapidated rail network, which has in recent years been edging toward collapse as passenger numbers plunge, train lines close and the vital freight business nosedives.

Khan’s government has vowed to make the 1,872 km (1,163 mile) line a priority CPEC project, saying it will help the poor travel across the vast South Asian nation.

But Islamabad is exploring funding options for CPEC projects that depart from the traditional BRI lending model, whereby host nations take on Chinese debt to finance construction of infrastructure, and has invited Saudi Arabia and other countries to invest.

One option for ML-1, according to Pakistani officials, is the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, which would see investors or companies finance and build the project and recoup their investment from cash flows generated mainly by the rail freight business, before returning it to Pakistan in a few decades time.

Yao, the Chinese envoy, said Beijing was open to BOT and would “encourage” its companies to invest.

Pakistan
A man waits to cross a portion of track once shared with the Karachi Circular Railway line in Karachi, Pakistan. VOA

Large rail projects, problems

Rail mega-projects under China’s BRI umbrella have run into problems elsewhere in Asia. A line linking Thailand and Laos has been beset by delays over financing, while Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad outright canceled the Chinese-funded $20 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

Beijing is happy to offer loans, but reticent to invest in the Pakistan venture as such projects are seldom profitable, according to Andrew Small, author of a book on China-Pakistan relations.

“The problem is that the Chinese don’t think they can make money on this project and are not keen on BOT,” Small said.

Off-books debt

During President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan in 2015, the ML-1 line was placed among a list of “early harvest” CPEC projects that would be prioritized, along with power plants urgently needed to end crippling electricity shortages.

But while many other projects from that list have now been completed, the rail scheme has been stuck.

Pakistan
. The difference between the two validate the investments made on the road, and give a hopeful image for the future.

Pakistani officials say they became wary of how early BRI contracts were awarded to Chinese firms, and are pushing for a public tender for ML-1.

Partly to help with price discovery, Pakistan asked the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to finance a chunk of the rail project through tendering. The ADB began discussions on a $1.5-$2 billion loan, but China insisted the project was “too strategic,” and Islamabad kicked out the ADB under pressure from Beijing in early 2017, according to Pakistani and ADB officials.

“If it’s such a strategic project then it should be a viable project for them to finance on very concessional terms or invest in?” said one senior Pakistani official familiar with the project, referring to the BOT model.

China’s foreign ministry said Beijing was engaged in “friendly consultations” with Pakistan on the rail project.

Chinese companies participated in BRI projects in an open and transparent way, “pooling benefits and sharing risks,” it said.

Pakistan
In this file photo taken Oct. 10, 2015, a bus moves past by solar power and wind power farms in northwestern China’s Ningxia Hui region.

Chinese debt or no project

Analysts say Pakistan will struggle to attract non-Chinese investors into the project, which may force it to choose between piling on Chinese debt or walking away from the project.

In 2017, Pakistan turned down Chinese funding for a $14 billion mega-dam project in the Himalayas because of cost concerns and worries Beijing could end up owning a vital national asset if Pakistan could not repay loans, as occurred with a Sri Lankan port.

Khan’s government chafes at several Chinese intercity mass transport projects in Punjab, the voter heartland of the previous government, which now need hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies every year.

Also Read: Creating a New Silk Road: China’s Billion Dollar Investments to Expand Its Transportation Network

They also fume about the risk of accumulating off-books sovereign debt through power contracts, where annual profits of above 20 percent, in dollar terms, were guaranteed by the previous