Pakistani authorities on Friday accused an Indian intelligence agency of assisting members of the separatist terror group Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) in attacking the Chinese consulate in Karachi last November.
Amir Ahmed Shaikh, the police chief of Karachi, said that BLA militants planned the November 2018 assault in Afghanistan with the support of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Dawn reveals.
Karachi is adjacent to Pakistan’s volatile Balochistan province, home to the BLA. The BLA took responsibility for the deadly attack, claiming it was fighting “Chinese occupation.”
BLA fighters are engaged in a separatist insurgency against Islamabad for what it claims as equal rights and self-determination for the Baloch people. Balochistan, the largest province in Pakistan, is part of an ancient region that also covers Afghan and Iranian territory.
The BLA has come out against Beijing’s investments on Pakistani soil and has attacked several Chinese projects, particularly those linked to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a component of Beijing’s multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or One Belt One Road (OBOR).
Pakistan and its top ally China consider India a regional rival. Pakistan has long accused India of lending support to the BLA, claiming the militants receive military aid through New Delhi envoys in neighboring Afghanistan, an accusation that India denies.
On Friday, authorities in Karachi officially linked India to the assault on the Chinese consulate, Dawn reports.
Karachi Police Chief Shaikh reportedly revealed that “at least five facilitators have been arrested so far” in connection to the probe.
Shaikh said law enforcement learned “the attack was aimed at sabotaging the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and meant to create trouble between Pakistan and China.”
“They wanted China to believe that Karachi is not [a] safe [city],” the police chief declared, adding, “They transported weapons in a boat engine from Quetta to Karachi through train service.”
“The terrorists used fake computerized national identity cards,” Shaikh also said. “We are writing to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Pakistan Railways to upgrade their security mechanism so that the facilities of the railways and the National Database & Registration Authority (Nadra) are not abused by terrorists.”
BLA militants have attacked projects linked to CPEC several times.
While Pakistan and the United Kingdom have officially deemed the BLA a terrorist organization, the U.S. State Department has only described the group’s activities as terrorism.
In November 2018, India did condemn the attack on the Chinese consulate, saying in a statement:
There can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism. The perpetrators of this heinous attack should be brought to justice expeditiously. Such terrorist attacks only strengthen the resolve of the international community to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
There have been three major wars between India and Pakistan, mainly over Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region claimed by Beijing, Islamabad, and New Delhi.
China has largely stayed in the shadows of the India-Pakistan Kashmir dispute. In recent years, India and Pakistan have repeatedly violated their 2003 Kashmir ceasefire.