The gunning down of nine foreign tourists, of whom three were Chinese, and has been explained by the Foreign Office as a conspiracy to disrupt Pak-China relations. The majority of those killed, six, were Ukrainian citizens. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman has roundly condemned the attack, and asked Pakistan not only to apprehend the culprits, but also ensure the safety of all Chinese citizens in Pakistan.

Pakistan stands united in grief with our Chinese, Ukranian and Russian friends.  The mindset we are battling against is exclusionist, and would do anything to keep Pakistan from increasing its meagre store of goodwill in the world. It also indicates that the organisation claiming responsibility for the attack had enlarged its agenda to all possible aspects to harm Pakistani interests. The Foreign Office making such an analysis, is slightly odd, for it has usually spoken quite frankly and logically about most issues, but now seems to be borrowing from a conspiracy theorist logbook.  It would have been best had the Foreign Office not encouraged a conspiracy mindset and named names.

 China and Pakistan’s business projects could be endangered by the attack, which will be more harmful to Pakistan than to China. This attack in the northern areas also exacerbates long expressed Chinese dissatisfaction with the growing militancy in Pakistan seeping through to its Xinxiang, Urumqi and other southern provinces.

Clearly militants, who are no well wishers of the state or its citizens, would also not be in favour of Chinese and Pakistan ties flourishing, or Pakistan’s ties with any other country in the world going forward unimpeded, for that matter. The Pakistani leadership conveyed its condemnation to the Chinese and Ukrainian embassies.

After this insult from the terrorists and the tragedy which has had to be borne by our visitors, on our soil, Pakistanis are feeling a sense of deep frustration and helplessness. Rightly the Chief Secretary and the IG Police in Gilgit were immediately suspended. But this will not be done. How did these terrorists move freely in the area? Where did they get military uniforms from? Why did they melt into the shadows from whence they came, with such ease? All these questions must be investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Pakistan – all of it – must be made safe for all in it. For our brethren in the northern areas, promoted as a paradise and whose people’s hospitality has earned them the deserved name of some of the best hosts in the world, this is an attack on their reliability and their future livelihood. Another tragedy will be the peaceful and gentle people of the northern areas suffering as a consequence of their homeland being turned into a playground for bullies wielding bullets.