Containing disruption

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The Saturday attack on Pearl Continental Hotel in Gwadar has successfully been repulsed by the brave security staff, three of them embraced martyred, and other law enforcement agencies. The response by the LEAs was as swift as was the attack. Reportedly four heavily armed attackers approached the entrance to the five-star hotel and engaged in a deadly fight for an extended period of time before being eliminated. A Baloch separatist group accepted the responsibility for the attack.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday described the targeting of the hotel as a bid to sabotage prosperity in the area. He vowed to defeat the militants’ agenda.

The Chinese embassy in Islamabad with most stakes in the CPEC project in a statement appreciated “the heroic action of Pakistani Army & law enforcement agencies and expressed condolences to the families of the security staff killed.

As is understood most of those working on the CPEC are of Chinese origin and hence were the possible target of the attackers. Fortunately not many of them were there at the time of the attack and those who were there were safely evacuated. In November last year, Chinese Consulate in Karachi came under attack and Balochistan Liberation Army accepted the responsibility for that.

In the wake of this attack, fake news regarding more terrorist attacks in the country were circulating on social media quoting the military’s media wing. The ISPR moved in quickly saying that such “propaganda” was an attempt to create “chaos and confusion.” Even Islamabad administration had to clarify that all reports of terrorists entering the capital were fake and there was truth to them.

Although contained timely and without much damage, the Gwadar is understood to be a heavily guarded town and an attack such as this should be a cause for concern for those responsible for the security of country’s flagship infrastructure project. Just weeks ago 14 security personnel were killed – execution style – in the dead of the night at one of the major arteries along the coastal belt. The attackers, again the separatists with backing from hostile foreign agencies, were able to flee to their sanctuaries across the border.

If there are any genuine concerns of the Baloch people about their due share, those can be discussed at legitimate forums and the political parties representing Balochistan can and should engage the federal government on this count. The same political parties can also act as a conduit to bring back the disgruntled Baloch back into the mainstream as the government engages Iranian and Afghan authorities for cooperation in combating the cross-border terrorism for it is important to bear in mind that a founder-leader of the group responsible for PC attack was killed in Afghanistan some time back. It takes no brains to figure that without sustainable peace true dividends of the CPEC won’t be possible. And this is what the enemies of development are out to sabotage and what the PM has hinted at. His resolve to defeat the disruptive agenda should have a strong follow-up plan.