Karachi Attack: On 29th June, 2020, Monday; a group of attackers (4 in number) held a brazen attack on PSX (Pakistan Stock Exchange) in the wee hours at around 10 AM, firing indiscriminately as they dismounted from their car and rushed towards the security barrier at the PSX premises. The terrorists were armed with automatic rifles and hand grenades. Security personnel thwarted their bid to enter the premises of PSX and the resultant shootout neutralized all attackers. Two terrorists were killed at that barrier while the rest of them were eliminated inside the parking lot of the PSX. The resultant exchange of firing resulted in the martyrdom of three security guards and a police officer. The police bravely fought off this cowardly attempt on the nation’s financial hub. The PSX is located in the heart of Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi in the close vicinity of various multinational companies and banks.
The terrorist organization, BLA (Baloch Liberation Army) was behind this attack as they have also accepted responsibility for the terrorist attack on PSX in a statement emailed to Al-Jazeera News channel. A senior security official stated that the attack was a hallmark of other subversive attempts held in the past by BLA in Karachi. The failed attack on Chinese Consulate during November, 2018 bore similar footprints like this event.
The Pakistan Government has suspicions that the attack was masterminded by the Indian RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) with the close coordination of terrorist elements in the Afghanistan territory. Pakistan’s Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi discussed the issue of sage havens of BLA with Afghan peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. Prime Minister Imran Khan also deliberated upon the matter during his address on the floor of National Assembly that Indian RAW is involved in the terrorist attack on PSX and is using sanctuaries in Afghanistan to carry out their heinous activities. The premier Imran Khan stated that, “What happened in Mumbai, they wanted to do the same [in Karachi]; they wanted to spread uncertainty. We have no doubt this was done by India,” the premier said, referring to the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which more than 160 people were killed. (Source: Dawn Newspaper)
Karachi Attack: WHY TARGET PSX?
The question that is most troubling is that why PSX was chosen as a target by the terrorists. PSX is the harbinger of the financial health of the country wherein billions of stock trading is carried out every day. The relationship between a stock market and public is deeply embedded as fluctuations in its growth or decline can affect the domestic economy both ways. The terrorists and their handlers had specific goals to achieve through this act. The first and foremost was to ensure that they lay siege to the premises and hold a long drawn out gunfight with the security personnel so as to embarrass the security apparatus. The second most important thing that they wanted to achieve was the disruption of this financial hub so that the investors lose billions of rupees due to the stock market crash resulting from this sabotage activity. PSX would have been termed as unsafe stock market and the foreign investors would have taken out their investments accordingly resulting in the bankruptcy of various companies. Thus, the emerging market status achieved by Pakistan can be downsized and the foreign investors can be lured away along with their investments. Thirdly, the main purpose was to highlight BLA as a credible terrorist organization with the capability to strike urban centers and financial hubs. Fourthly, BLA wanted to propagate the plight of Baloch’s and instigate the international community to put pressure on Pakistan to succumb to the unlawful demands of the terrorists who are purportedly claiming to represent the Baloch people. This can be seen from the fact that the statement issued by the BLA to Al-Jazeera is full of propaganda stuff that has Indian footprints written all over it.
The situation in Balochistan has been quite good at the moment as the terrorists of various hues have been eliminated by the security forces. Their ring leaders are on the run and the remnants of the terrorists are now operating in the safe havens of Afghanistan under the auspices of RAW. This is the main argument of the security apparatus of Pakistan which is based on solid reasons pointed earlier. Pakistan government has time and again reiterated its stance that the Indian Consulates on the bordering areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan are acting as launching pads for the operations of terrorist organizations such as BLA. These sanctuaries should be closed and the handlers need to be brought to the book by the Afghan Government.
Karachi Attack: PAKISTAN’S GOVERNMENT STANCE
Even before the particular attack on PSX, Pakistan Government has been adamant that the terrorist elements in the Afghan jurisdiction are seeking destabilization of Pakistan. Islamabad is extremely apprehensive that the ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan are being used by hostile agencies, particularly including India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to create problems for Pakistan.
Pakistan’s foreign office played an active part in highlighting the Governments’ stance on the matter. US president’s representative on Afghan Peace mission, ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad; who visited the Pakistan only days after the attack was briefed about the matter in a meeting with foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Zalmay Khalilzad’s visit to Pakistan is part of his regular engagement for consultations and exchange of views on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process. The foreign minister highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to the US-Taliban direct talks culminating in the Peace Agreement of 29 February 2020. Reiterating that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was important for peace and stability in the region and beyond, Qureshi welcomed the latest developments, including announcements on formation of negotiating team and establishment of High Council of National Reconciliation.
He also emphasized that it was important to not let the spoilers undermine or derail the process of intra-Afghan negotiations.
Although, official presser did not reveal, however; sources expressed that in his meeting with Khalilzad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi did raise the issue of “safe havens” of BLA in Afghanistan as well as the role of India in orchestrating the terrorist attack.
On top of it, Pakistan’s prime minister during a session on the floor of parliament claimed categorically that India was behind the BLA in orchestrating the Karachi Attack on PSX.
The strength and resolve of the Pakistan’s security forces once again proved that the enemy cannot hurt Pakistan as long as the brave forces of the country exist. The wherewithal to directly confront the terrorists and neutralize them has been the hallmark of the security forces in the past and in the present instance is a stark reminder of this fact. The government’s unflinching and unambiguous stance regarding the perpetrators of the attack that is Indian RAW was exposed on both the domestic and international fronts. The most important and positive outcome was the resolve of Pakistani public that came to the fore. The business at the PSX went unabated despite gunshots and grenade blasts. Trading continued during that fateful day and the electronic system of PSX did not go offline for even a moment. The stock market closed 0.71 percent up at 34181.80 points at the closure of business. That is the most amazing thing about this whole scenario. To cut short, the terrorists and their handlers failed to achieve their objectives through a botched up sabotage plan. The security forces, Pakistan Government and the public at large came out the winners on yet another onset of crisis. Pakistan has also pressed upon the Afghan Government to take decisive action against the ring leaders of the terrorist organizations such as BLA.
BUALinks is a Pakistani international relations news reporting website.
Written By Haris Shah