CPEC confronts terrorism


“All’s good” is not a good policy


How to make CPEC safe of terrorism is the biggest challenge. The CPEC has a long route of 3000 km from Gwadar to Kashgar, which means it requires unprecedented level of security and massive counter-terrorism measures at the highest level. Some say that Government has misplaced perceptions of its counter-terrorism measures and strategies and it has over-played its successes since 2013. Critics are referring to the debate in the National Assembly that took place on 10 August.

The road to security is still bumpy and much has to be done. They are India-Afghan centric notions of insecurity but Government’s counter-terrorism decision-makers should also look into the role of the third-party/parties with those having keen interests in Balochistan and CPEC to sabotage the multi-billion project.

The arrest of Kalbushan Yadav ahead of the Indo-Iranian pact of Chabahar should and must be an eye-opener but much has not been brought out after the initial reports were made. His direct involvement on Iran’s soil against Pakistan must not be treated as a mystery and an isolated event of RAW’s activities. It looks that after his arrest, no success was made and matter has gone into routine investigation business, which should not be the case.

The Quetta carnage of 8 August is yet another eye-opener. The blast killed 70 people and injured more than 125. While speaking to a high level security meeting in Quetta the same day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hinted out that enemies were “dismayed of the CPEC”.  He asked the army to take action against terrorists. The Army Chief General Raheel Sharif categorically said that the Quetta blast was made to sabotage CPEC. He said that Quetta attack was an attack on CPEC. The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) termed it a bid to destabilize CPEC projects.

In May, a blast hit the van of a Chinese engineer in Karachi. Although he was saved, the purpose was to create havoc against the life of Chinese workers participating in CPEC projects. The terrorist actions against Chinese workers were started right after the completion of the Gwadar Port. The Quetta blast did not target Chinese workers but it aimed at creating a general atmosphere against the CPEC as Balochistan is home to CPEC projects. Over 1300 km (or, a quarter of CPEC road connectivity) rests in Balochistan with Gwadar Port and Air Port as key to these projects.

Conspiracy theory cannot be ruled out. There are interests of regional players and big powers. There could be a number of possibilities of terrorist attack in Quetta. The India-Iran nexus has not been much explored by law enforcing authorities. Iran has its right to use Chabahar and to cooperate with India. One has to see if the Chabahar Pact has no implications for Pakistan’s security interests. The reports in Indian media are alarming.

Kalbushan Yadav’s case would largely determine the impacts of Chabahar on Pakistan. There is an Afghan connection and its NDS activities in Balochistan. There is a collaboration between NDS and RAW and this collaboration targets CPEC projects. Pakistan has to make efforts to expose the NDS-Raw nexus.

Another possibility could be China’s home gown East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Some of its elements might still be hiding inside Pakistan and in neighboring countries and they might be used to disrupt the CPEC projects by anti-CPEC elements.

The fourth factor could be role of the extra-regional powers and their allies in the Gulf that could be upset by the building of the Gwadar Port as it might damage their maritime commercial interests. All these involvements present the presence of the maritime great game in Gwadar to upset Chinese interests in the Indian Ocean.

The Quetta carnage and any terrorist attack in the country are interrelated with the CPEC. The Government should not “take full credit for decreasing terrorism” since June 2014 when Zarb-e-Azb was launched to take military action instead of talking to terrorists after the attack on the Karachi Jinnah International Air Port.

Terrorists have re-grouped themselves after their bankers were eliminated in South and North Waziristan and in other parts of the FATA area. Now they have specialised targets with their changed strategies. So far they have inflicted lost of losses deep inside in the country. They have attacked military bases, educational institutions, public parks, busses and railways and religious processions etc.

The Government should not take the “credit for lesser evils” compared to previous killings. Terrorism is terrorism. It is bad in all forms – more or less. To say that they have decreased terrorism shows the signs of a defeated mind. Terrorism should be rooted out completely without any consideration. It is equally bad to compare the number of terrorist-related killings to the previous regimes and compare it with the on-going regime. Do they know that this point squaring is dreadful and highly demoralised? They should refrain from doing so.

To politely remind the Government, there were attacks on air base at Badabair, naval dockyard in Karachi, and air ports at Karachi and Quetta during this regime and other military and security installations including Peshawar Army School, Bacha Khan University in Charsada and Ismails killings in Karachi. Imambargahs and churches were also targeted.

There are killings and high target people were killed even during 2013-16. Major-General Sanaullah Niazi lost his life in September 2013 in Swat. Punjab Interior Minister Shuja Khanzada lost his life in August 2014 in Attock and notable Qawal Amjad Sabri was shot dead in Karachi in June and so was SP Chaudhary Aslam who lost his life in Karachi January 2014. Now we have Quetta hospital blast. Government should not take “credit for lesser evils”. It should take actions against terrorists. Otherwise, they know the result better than these analyses.

The Quetta blast asks many questions. How many terrorists were apprehended and brought to the gallows so far? Is our counter-terrorist policy successful? How many terrorists were brought to the Military Courts for justice? Only 40 of them were brought to the Military Courts. Is just 36 number of hanging is enough to end terrorism in the country when over 80,000 lost their lives, says a report of the international physicians organisations? There are no flaws in the National Action Plan (NAP)? All is good is not a good policy. Senses should work more effectively than policies. It is as simple.

There should be no “praise” or “hate- game” as for the role of agencies and law enforcers are concerned. They are Government functionaries and their task is to eliminate terrorism. It is natural that people criticise their role when such inhuman incidents take place. Should they praise the Interior Ministry that only 70 people were killed? Let’s be sensible to such critical national catastrophes.


  1. This article is a very good eye opener for the ruling political party as well as to the military establishment. The planning to get the CPEC completed spreading over 3000 km from Guwadr to Kashgar is fraught with various problems. As rightly mentioned by Dr. Ahmad Rashid Malik, that ‘ senses should work more effectively than policies’ because this multi millions project has raised many interests to sabotage its future

  2. Security of CPEC has lead to hard political decisions like de-fanging of MQM and NAP implementation. If CPEC needs to be secure whole Pakistan has to move a few notches above in law and order efficiency situation.

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