Local media reported that a deal has been signed between a Chinese company and Pakistan to run a new bus service in Karachi.
The bus service will be run on the model of ‘People’s Bus Service’. Chinese company Shandong Hi Speed reached the agreement during a meeting of the Chinese company’s delegation with Sindh Transport Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon in Karachi.
Pakistan’s local media portal Radio Pakistan reported that Pakistan Minister Sharjeel Memon has asked the Chinese company to complete the purchase process of the buses.
Under this new bus service, there will be a fleet of five hundred buses, which will reach Karachi within four months.
Impoverished but friendly Pakistan has welcomed China, notably through the multi-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), allowing the latter’s expansion and access to the Indian Ocean region.
In reality, however, it proved to be a costly venture on several counts, not least in terms of lives lost. Twenty-four Chinese nationals have been killed and many more injured in targeted attacks in the past year alone.
The April 26 terrorist attack in the heart of Karachi University shows that militancy in Pakistan is religious and ethnically diverse, not sparing traditional opponents such as minorities and the state, but gaining more anti-China tendencies, and that should worry the self-styled “friends of iron and all weather”.
The target was not the CPEC project that attracted opposition from locals, but the Confucius Institute, China’s cultural hub, one of several such projects set up worldwide. Launched in 2004 to offer free education in Chinese language and culture, it has been dismissed as a purveyor of propaganda in many Western countries.
Moreover, many – unaccounted for or kept secret – died during the preparation of Gwadar port and shipyard and other projects in the pre-CPEC era.
The woman who carried out the ‘suicide attack’ was Shari Baloch. A photo of him with a smile and a ‘V’ for victory sign was available on social media. She belonged to the Balochistan Liberation Army’s Majeed Brigade, which claimed responsibility for the attack.
Shari Baloch being a post graduate and a teacher by training and profession confirms that the face of militancy in Balochistan has changed radically. It is not just the poor tribal youth but also the urban and educated classes of the province who are being exploited as a result of CPEC.
With CPEC, the Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan governments have struggled unsuccessfully, unable to deal with organized surprise attacks, state repression and hundreds of youths who have ‘disappeared’, died or ended up in jail indefinitely. Creating an elite wing of the army exclusively for the security of CPEC did not help.
Shehbaz Sharif’s new government has announced its resolve to target militants, especially those in Balochistan. But security in the provinces is maintained by a mishmash of intelligence agencies, both civilian and military, and there are militants who are nurtured as ‘assets’ who play one against the other until they become monsters. Thus, it has a tough job at hand.