Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 119, 1 July 2020

Balochistan Liberation Army attacks Pakistan stock exchange
Lakshmi V Menon

In the news

On 29 June, four-armed militants stormed the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in Karachi with hand grenades and assault rifles. In the hourlong crossfire that finally neutralized the militants, one police officer and three security guards were reported dead. The Baloch insurgent group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), have claimed responsibility for the attack through social media. However, the heads of Pakistan's paramilitary force Sindh Rangers, the Army, Counter-Terrorism Department and Prime Minister Imran Khan have directly and indirectly accused the Indian government and its intelligence agency of aiding BLA in orchestrating the attack to 'destabilize Pakistan.' The overt accusations have been denied by India. 

Issues at large

First, target on larger Chinese interests through CPEC. In recent years, the militant group has directed its attacks on China's presence and interests in Balochistan province such as the Gwadar deep-sea port which is a part of BRI's flagship programme of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The attack on the PSX could be interpreted as a larger attack on Chinese investments in Pakistan as the Chinese investors hold a 40 per cent stake in the PSX in Karachi. 

Second, target on Pakistan's clampdown on the Baloch insurgency. Baloch disappearances, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, killings and abuses have long been the tool used by Pakistan to subdue the Baloch insurgency. The human rights abuses have been issues that featured in the PTI-BNP(M) agreements. However, the Human Rights Council of Balochistan in its annual report said that there was no betterment in the human rights conditions of Balochis. Historically too, the resource-rich southwestern province has been violence beset, and the issue of Baloch disappearances dates back to 1973.

Last, accusing the BLA of India connections. Pakistan's PM, security heads and mainstream media have linked the BLA with the Indian government. The political leadership has cited several reports by the Indian media, such as Modi's statement during his Bangladesh visit about India's involvement in 'destabilizing Pakistan' and Indian citizenship offer to exiled anti-Pak Baloch leaders including Baloch Republican Party Brahamdagh Bugti. Accusing India externalizes the problem than finding a solution inwards.  

In perspective

First, the attack echoes swelling dissatisfaction, hopelessness, and loss of faith in the federal government and Pakistan's political and judicial structures. It also reflects the socio-political and economic frustrations within the Baloch community. The event sets a dangerous precedent considering the rifts and cracks within the ruling coalition at the Center.

Second, the inadvertent nexus of BNP-M exit and the PSX attack and Pakistan's allegations are difficult to ignore. A week before the attack BNP-M withdrew from the ruling coalition, citing the unfulfillment of the two agreements signed in 2018 which included the six-point pact. As the attack followed, it was quickly and vociferously attributed to India. It remains to be seen whether this leads to winning back the support of the BNP-M.


Lakshmi V Menon is a Research Consultant at the National Institute of Advanced Studies.  

October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 174
Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence

October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem

September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between

August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement

August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 
July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 63
Indigenous Communities battle a complete wipeout 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal

January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings

December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019
November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar