The Pakistani state has long viewed any calls for ethnic or linguistic diversity as subversive and anti-national. This has meant that any demands by Sindhi, Muhajir, Pashtun, Baloch, Seraiki groups for devolution or autonomy have been suppressed brutally.
While the Pakistani state faces challenges from many groups, in recent years it is the Baloch groups that have managed to cause the maximum damage especially in their attacks against the Pakistani security forces.
And yet, despite the use of massive force, Pakistan has not been able to completely suppress the Baloch dissidents. It now looks like the Pakistani state is asking for help from China – a country known to brutally suppress any form of dissent – its close partner and ‘Iron Brother.’
In October 2022, Pakistan deployed Chinese-origin combat CH-4B drones during a massive military offensive against Baloch rebels in the Bolan region alongside fighter jets, and Gunship helicopters, along with SSG Commandos.
China because of its massive investments through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has often been at the receiving end of attacks by groups that attack the Pakistani state.
This includes attacks on Chinese engineers at the Dasu Dam in July 2021 and, among others, the April 2022 suicide attack at Karachi University’s Chinese language and culture institute. The Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attacks.
It appears that Beijing is fully on board with helping Pakistan suppress its own citizens through any means possible.