As we note in our Red Paper, in 2019 we will be closely following the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist insurgent group in the resource-rich southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan.
A major artery of the Belt and Road — a signature project of Xí Jìnpíng’s 习近平 — is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes right through Balochistan. The BLA says CPEC is exploitative, and is running a low-key insurgency against it. Last month, three suicide attackers stormed the Chinese consulate in the Pakistani city of Karachi. They were killed before they could get into the building in a car packed with explosives.
Now the South China Morning Post reports that Aslam Baloch, “one of the alleged masterminds” of that attack, was killed in a suicide attack in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, across the border from Balochistan. Five associates died with him, according to a statement released by the BLA yesterday.
The SCMP notes that “Pakistan has long accused its old rival India of supporting insurgents in Balochistan,” which India denies while also accusing “Pakistan of nurturing Islamist militants throughout the region.”