July 28, 2013

Gwadar: Gunmen storm Coast Guards check post

Bloodshed in Gwadar: Gunmen storm Coast Guards check post
By Mohammad ZafarPublished: July 28, 2013


Gunmen attacked a Pakistan Coast Guards check post in Gwadar district Saturday morning, killing seven officials and wounding as many others. Two of the wounded officials are said to be missing after the assault.Balochistan has increasingly become a flashpoint for both sectarian violence and  Baloch insurgency which has steadily become deadlier since the 2006 killing of Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military operation in Kohlu district.

Saturday’s incident happened in the Sund Sar area, some 125 kilometres from Quetta city and close to the Pakistan-Iran border, according to Balochistan Levies sources and local administration officials.

“Around 24 gunmen, armed with rocket launchers and heavy weapons, attacked the Kalki check post and killed seven Coast Guards officials,” Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told reporters. At least seven officials were also injured in the early morning attack, he added.

A local tribal police official Muhammad Ali also confirmed the attack and casualties and said the identity of the attackers was not immediately known. According to sources, two of the injured officials went missing following the attack.

The officials manning the check post returned the fire and inflicted heavy casualties forcing them to retreat, Pakistan Coast Guards said in a press release. The terrorists also took away the bodies of their wounded fighters.
Gwadar tehsildar Akbar Baloch told The Express Tribune that the attackers, armed with sophisticated weapons, approached the check post in two vehicles around 6am.

Soon after the attack, the Coast Guards, Frontier Corps and Balochistan Levies mounted a manhunt for the attacker, Home Secretary Durrani said.

The casualties were shifted to the Pakistan Navy Hospital in Ormara. The dead Coast Guards officials – identified as Lance Naik Kamran Aslam and constables Ali Nawaz, Saifur Rehman, Amir Abbas, Rustam Bilal, Shabbir Israr and Abdul Qayyum – were flown to Karachi.

The injured officials were identified as Subedar Athar Khan, Lance Naik Jalil and constables Aftab, Lal Mohammad and Ali Raza. Naik Shafiur Rehman and Constable Jhango Khan were said to be missing following the attack.
A medley of Baloch separatist groups – including Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) – have been fighting a deadly insurgency in Balochistan since 2004.
Speaking to Quetta-based journalists from an undisclosed location, Gohram Baloch, a purported spokesperson for BLF, claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack.

Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai and Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch condemned the attack and ordered the security forces to take immediate steps to improve law and order.

Gwadar is home to a newly built strategic warm-water, deep-sea port, which was jointly developed by Pakistan and China and inaugurated March 20, 2007. The port operations were officially handed over to China in 2013. And the new Pakistani government has chalked out elaborate plans for the development of the district.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2013.

World looks anew on Balochistan as China dreams big


Thursday, July 11, 2013 - Islamabad—The world is looking anew on Balochistan as China is making a thumping entry by taking over control of Gwadar Port and agreeing to build an ambitious Gwadar-Kashgar economic corridor in partnership with Pakistan. Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, with an area of 347,190 square kilometres, but sparsely populated with 7.9 million people, has emerged as a vibrant factor when it comes to trade and energy supplies in the region.

Rana Abdul Baqi, an analyst, says Balochistan’s fortunes will be changing as China will make its investments to turn the province into a trade and energy corridor linking Gwadar Port to Silk Route extending into Central Asian states. Growing interest of China in taking advantage of Balochistan’s potential as regional trade hub, has drawn attention of other powerful players, many giving out ambivalent vibes.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif calls Gwadar-Kashgar economic corridor, a game changer, benefitting three billion people in the region. Balochistan province will serve as a transit zone for Iranian natural gas pipeline for Pakistan and Gwadar port is seen as a logistical hub for Afghanistan and Central Asia’s landlocked nations. China, which is partner of Pakistan, in many of its mega strategic infrastructure projects took control of Gwadar port during the first visit to Pakistan by China’s premier Li Keqiang in May.

China’s Overseas Ports Holding Company took charge of the port under an agreement signed in February after buying shares of the Gwadar Port from Port of Singapore Authority (PSA). Talking recently at a conference on Balochistan, Abdul Baqi expressed concern about growing interest of world powers and named intelligence agencies CIA, Mossad and RAW as trouble makers in Balochistan. He said former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States Hussain Haqqani issued visas to thousands of Americans, many of them intelligence operatives of infamous outfit Blackwater.

Gwadar port has assumed great importance in defence strategy of Pakistan. Abdul Baqi reminded that India’s navy, which besieged Karachi port in a war some decades ago, will now get its naval tail extended. Now Gwadar port will be connected to far north of the country through two additional routes including Indus Highway giving more strategic space to Pakistan’s armed forces.

Former army chief General (R) Aslam Beg sees conspiracies all around when it comes to events in Balochistan and is blunt in saying that Pervez Musharraf set the country in wrong direction by aiding an attack on Afghanistan. He stressed that politicians should take lead in effectively administering Balochistan province and resolving grievances of people. Defence analyst and leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N) Lt Gen (R) Malik Abdul Qayyum holds previous federal governments responsible for creating mess in Balochistan.

He saw Balochistan as a golden bridge connecting land locked states with sea lanes of Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf and trade routes reaching far and wide in East and Central Asia and Middle East. Abdul Qayyum quoted figures of 19 trillion cubic feet of gas and six trillion barrels of oil that go with huge deposits of gold, copper, iron ore, marble, limestone and a wealth of minerals still lying unexplored in Balochistan.

American think tanks like Carnegie Endowment for International Peace mentioned worriness of United States over growing Chinese influence in the region. Pakistani analysts also take note that seven consulates of India are working in areas of Afghanistan close to Pakistan border.—APP


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