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“Baloch Liberation Army once again warns China to immediately halt its exploitation projects and refrain from aiding the occupying Pakistani state. Otherwise our future attacks will be even harsher. Hundreds of highly trained male and female members of Baloch Liberation Army’s Majeed Brigade are ready to carry out deadly attacks in any part of Balochistan and Pakistan. We want to tell Pakistan to immediately stop Baloch genocide, peacefully withdraw from Balochistan and recognise Baloch motherland’s independence, or else be ready for further attacks”. This is how BLA claimed responsability for the attack at Confucius Institute at Karachi University. This is the third time BLA attacks Chinese targets in Karachi: the first was in 2018 at the local Chines Consulate, the second in 2020 at the Pakistan Stock Exchange where Chinese have major investments. Chinese were the target also of the attack, in 2019, at the Pearl Continental hotel in Gwadar, and Chinese were killed also in 2021 in another attack in Gwadar. After all, Islamabad sold Balochistan to Chinese: telling Beijing they could easily manage few rioters funded by the usual 'foreign powers', and the only way out they could conceive was escalating the repression against Baloch, the human rights violations, the level of violence permeating any aspect of life in the region. And Chinese gave them a good hand, trying to adopt in Balochistan the same strategies they adopted in Xinjiang, including showing happy people playing golf in Gwadar. With the only result of creating a new generation of fighters even more motivated than their elders. Truth is Baloch are in arms, more than ever, and are not going to give up. Islamabad tries to silence the press about military operations carried by BRAS, the umbrella uniting all the guerrilla groups, almost every day. The region is sealed for journalists and independent observers, but the reality on the ground still filters out of the region. Islamabad mantains the usual narrative: Baloch handlers are in Afghanistan and in India, it is not a freedom movement or a spontaneous revolt, Baloch are happy and dancing in the streets like Uighurs in China and the revolt is just due to terrorist elements funded and armed by India. Last February the 'Operation Ganjal' carried out by the same Majeed Brigade who did the Karachi attack, targeted military posts, both in Panjgur and Noshki, and lasted almost 72 hours inflicting heavy casualties to Pakistani troops. But the latest Karachi attack marks, for several reason, a new course into the BRAS strategy. “Today’s mission” the BLA statment says “was successfully carried out by Majeed Brigade’s fidayee Shaari Baloch alias Bramsh, resident of Niazar Abad Turbat. The mother of two children, eight year old Mahrosh and four year old Meer Hassan sacrificed herself for a better future of Baloch nation. She added a new chapter to the Baloch resistance history by becoming the first female fidayee of Baloch nation”. Shaari's pictures are all over the media, she has been praised and insulted, the debate around the first female suicide bomber is TV screens and social media. “If a mother of two beautiful kids who has a very decent and well educated family can decide to sacrifice herself, the world should understand what Baloch are going through and who is responsible for that” commented Naela Qadri Baloch, president of the World Baloch Women Forum in Canada. Because the war in Balochistan, the war carried out by Pakistani army and intelligence against Baloch, is indeed fastly becoming, like many other wars all over the world, a war fought on the bodies of women. Under many aspects. Every day more and more women in Balochistan are disappeared, raped, tortured, killed in cold blood by Pakistani Army and intelligence. In the past there have been cases, several cases, of women abducted, detained and tortured, used as sex slaves by military personnel and then thrown away when they were tired of playing with them. However, is difficult to get numbers because, as it always happen in these cases, women feel ashamed and don't want to disclose their misery. It took years and years to highlight in full the horrors of rapes during the Bangladeshi war, and it will take years, when and if all this will end one day, to disclose in full the plight of Baloch women. And if in the past the women, the children and the old people who would disappear were some way linked to activists, now the phenomenon assumed a new, scary face. They take people more or less randomly, behaving more like goons than like the army of a civilized country. It was just a matter of time, in ultimate analysis, before women stop being only helpless victimis and would use their bodies as weapons against the oppression. But for many reasons the latest attack, and above all the more and more definitive shift towards so called 'soft targets' of the armed resistence, along with the use of women as suicide bombers, raises many concerns and some way divided the public opinion in Balochistan too. Attacks on civilians are in fact quite difficult to justify, even when you are on the right side of history, even when you say that you are shooting the symbol and not the men. Plus, adopting the same strategies adopted in the past by many islamic terrorist group in search of notoriety, will not gain any long term benefit to the Baloch cause. Until now, in fact, the groups fighting under the BRAS umbrella have been leading a war of liberation on Balochistan land and targeting (with few exceptions) police, military and para-military forces. Attacking a bank, like Balochistan Nationalist Army did in January or blowing yourself up into a university campus will put for sure the groups into the limelight but will not get the right kind of attention. If you analyze the reports by both local and international media and social media, little or no attention is given to the sacrosanct issues of Baloch, nobdy cares to find the reasons behind Shaari's self immolation or behind the fight against both Pakistani and Chinese oppression. The supporters of the official narrative in Pakistan are even more than happy to label Baloch as ordinary terrorists and to invoke another crackdown. ISI is even too glad to have a ground for undermining once more the problem of enforced disappearences, mass graves, extrajudicial killings, the systematic rape and killing of women and children and so cover up or justify under the national security threat any violations of human and civil rights. Chinese are already invoking retaliation and the launching of direct air strikes against the groups. Actually, there's only one part who will benefit from further attacks on civilians and from this change of strategy: Pakistan.
Francesca Marino