QUETTA, PAKISTAN (Agencies): A new terrorist group, Tehreek-e Jihad Pakistan (TJP), has emerged as a significant security concern for both Pakistan and China’s ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The TJP claimed responsibility for a recent terrorist attack in Zhob, during which four soldiers and three gunmen were killed, along with an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire.

The TJP declared its intention to continue attacking government forces until Sharia law is established in Pakistan. This development comes amidst the backdrop of the Balochistan insurgency, which has seen escalating conflict between Baloch nationalist freedom fighters and the Pakistan army. The situation has been exacerbated by attacks on CPEC projects and Chinese nationals in Pakistan, creating pressure on the Pakistani security establishment to respond decisively.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, bordering Afghanistan and Iran, has been a hotbed of instability and violence, fueled by Islamist militants, sectarian groups, and nationalist separatists. The region is rich in natural resources, making it a critical area for infrastructure development, including the CPEC, which is a flagship project for China.

The emergence of the TJP adds another dimension to the Baloch struggle for independence, previously dominated by the outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). The TJP’s attacks on Chinese assets and personnel pose a particular threat to the CPEC’s security, which is under the responsibility of the Pakistan military. Any successful attacks on Chinese assets could severely embarrass the Pakistan Army, which has established dedicated security divisions to protect CPEC infrastructure and personnel.

The TTP’s involvement in Balochistan further complicates the security situation. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), under Wali Mehsud’s leadership, has extended its reach into non-Pashtun majority areas, including Balochistan. The group has been releasing propaganda videos in Balochi, attempting to appeal to Baloch sentiments, and has started targeting Frontier Corps and military personnel.

The failure to address the socio-economic grievances of the Baloch people has led to the hardening of positions and a growing desire for independence. Pakistan’s military establishment appears determined to eliminate any form of Baloch nationalism, further exacerbating the conflict. The security forces’ inability to end the Baloch conflict by force underscores the need for a political resolution to manage Pakistan’s diversity effectively.

As the security situation worsens, there are concerns that the emerging nexus between Tehreek-e Jihad Pakistan and other militant groups could pose a potential threat to Pakistan’s territorial integrity. In light of this, several countries are reportedly prepared to recognize Balochistan’s independence and offer support to the fledgling state.

The situation calls for a delicate balance between addressing grievances and ensuring security, with the potential involvement of regional and international stakeholders in seeking a viable resolution to the longstanding Balochistan issue.

By Media

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