Chinese consulate attack puts Pakistan between a rock and a hard place
By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on, , and .
Two attacks in Pakistan, including a brazen assault on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, are likely to complicate prime minister Imran Khan’s efforts to renegotiate China’s massive, controversial Belt and Road investments as well as an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout and ensure that Pakistan is shielded from blacklisting by an international anti-money laundering and terrorism finance watchdog.
The, a militant nationalist group seeking what it terms self-determination for the troubled, resource-rich, sparsely populated Pakistani province that constitutes the heartland of China’s US$45 billion investment and the crown jewel of its infrastructure and energy generation-driven Belt and Road initiative.
The attack, together with, comes at an awkward moment for Mr. Khan.
With Pakistan teetering on the edge of a financial crisis, Mr. Khan has been seeking financial aid from friendly countries like China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as a bailout from the IMF.
Responding to widespread criticism of Chinese investment terms that go beyond Baloch grievances, Mr. Khan is seeking to renegotiate the Chinese terms as well as the priorities of what both countries have dubbed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will link the crucial Baloch port of Gwadar with China’s troubled north-western province of Xinjiang, the scene of a brutal crackdown on Turkic Muslims.
Mr. Khan last month, dubbed Davos in the Desert, that was being shunned by numerous CEOs of Western financial institutions, tech entrepreneurs and media moguls as well as senior Western government officials because of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In talks with King Salman and the crown prince, Saudi Arabia promised tofor a year. The kingdom this week as .
However, Mr. Khan’s visit to Beijing earlier this month was less conclusive. Despite lofty words and the signing of a raft of agreements, Mr. Khan’s visitwith China insisting that were needed.
Amid criticism of CPEC by Baloch activists who charge that the province’s local population has no stake in the project and members of the business community who chafe at China importing materials needed for projects from China rather than purchasing them locally and largely employing Chinese rather than Pakistani nationals, Mr. Khan only elicited vague promises for his demand that the focus of CPEC on issues such as job creation, manufacturing and agriculture be fast forwarded.
China’s refusal to immediately bail Pakistan out has forced Mr. Khan to turn to the IMF for help. The IMF, backed by the United States, has set tough conditions for a bailout, including
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in July that any. US Pakistani relations dived this week with .
The attack on the consulate coupled with Saudi Arabia’s financial support is likely to fuel long-standing Chinese concerns that Pakistan has yet to get a grip on political violence in the country. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in response to the attack that. Pakistan has a 15,000-man force dedicated to protecting Chinese nationals and assets.
China also fears that Balochistan could become a launching pad for
The attack together with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bombing not only signals a recent spike in political violence in Pakistan but also comes against the backdrop of.
Earlier this month, Pakistan said it had, saying efforts to recover the other captives are ongoing. An anti-Iran Sunni Muslim militant organization, Jaish al-Adl or Army of Justice, kidnapped the guards a month ago in the south-eastern Iranian border city of Mirjaveh and took them to the Pakistani side of the porous frontier between the two countries.
The attack on the consulate as well as the bombing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are likely to increase pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-money laundering and terrorism finance watchdog, and its Asian counterpart, the Asia Pacific Group (APG) to strengthen Pakistani compliance with international best practices.
An APG delegation expressedin October and said it would report its findings to FATF by the end of this month. in February, a prelude to blacklisting if the country fails to clean up its act. Blacklisting could potentially derail Pakistan’s request for IMF assistance.
In sum, this week’s attacks put Pakistan between a rock and a hard place. Countering militancy has proven difficult, if not impossible, given the deep-seated links between government, political parties and militants,.
Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and co-host of the and just published podcast. James is the author of blog, a with the same title and a co-authored volume, as well as