WINDOW ON SOUTH ASIA

Published:  12:29 AM, 17 May 2019

Terror attacks in a posh Gwadar hotel

Terror attacks in a posh Gwadar hotel

Terror strikes every now and then have become a routine than exception amid contradictory reports of ISIS collapsing as well as re asserting as seen in the recent Easter bombings in Sri Lanka. As several parts of Sri Lanka remain tense and under prohibitory orders, Pakistani coastal town and tourist attraction Gwadar, witnessed a deadly terror attack last weekend (May 11) when terrorists tried to enter inside the luxurious five star hotel, Zaveri Pearl Continental killing a security guard and later many succumbed to injuries. It was a providential escape for the hotel guests housed in various rooms, (who were evacuated well in time ) overlooking the Arabian Sea or else there were every chances of the situation becoming a hostage crisis more or less like the Mumbai 26/11 attacks .

Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) owned the responsibility for carrying out such dastardly and daring attacks. Gwadar remains the centerpiece of multibillion dollar Chinese project under the CPEC and Belt and Road Initiative. Baluchis have been vehemently opposing any Chinese investment in their region as they want their internal conditions to improve first before any fancy projects are ushered. Baluchis, reeling under immense self esteem and pride, are always critical of the Chinese presence in their territory.

Meanwhile, a pattern of Pakistani angst towards the Chinese present in Pakistan seems to be emerging. In the not very distant past, Chinese consulate in Karachi was targeted with several casualties and there are often stray reports of Chinese being targeted with violence at sporadic places.

The Gwadar hotel attack also exposes the prevailing fragile security and intelligence scene in the Pakistani establishment.  Significantly, there is a sizable and robust military presence in Baluchistan especially in Gwadar as the Chinese are modernising the Gwadar port and the port itself is strategically located and remains vulnerable. This notwithstanding, the terror strikes in the hotel reflects the Pakistani alertness and vigilance in a dim light.

Although the BLA has claimed responsibility for the hotel attacks, some security experts are not ruling out the complicity of dreaded terror outfit Lashkar e Jhangvi or the Pakistan Taliban. However, chances of their involvement look remote. Having said this, it will not be surprising if Pakistan conveniently blames the Indian intelligence agencies for the hotel attacks.

Given the bleak security scenario in Pakistan, the authorities must step up a pro active action plan to address the ongoing terror menace. With the designation of Masood Azhar as the global terrorist , and China no longer extending its support to JeM or Azhar , Pakistan needs to control its homegrown terror outfits who have sadly gone beyond control and it seems the ISI too is failing to rein them .

Logically, this sad state of affairs is happening as such outfits were abused by the Deep State to perpetrate attacks on Pakistani enemy soil especially to target Kashmir. With international pressure mounting on Pakistan and the country gradually getting globally isolated, it's time for Pakistan to tackle terror on a war footing and on priority. The Gwadar hotel attacks and few days ago a deadly attack at a Sufi shrine are all wake up calls. Pakistan appears to be oblivious of the harsh realities. Any further delay would mean an escalation in the Baluchis intensifying their liberation movement and terrorists joining hands to cripple Pakistan with repeated acts of terror.


The writer is a security analyst and former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius



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