Three Teachers Were Blown Up. This Is Why.


Pakistani authorities dreaded such an attack.

Three Chinese teachers and their local driver were killed in Karachi by a highly educated female suicide bomber in April, undermining Pakistan’s most important partnership and threatening its financial future.

China’s Belt and Road initiative threatens a major segment of the $65 billion network of roads, railways, pipelines, and ports in Pakistan that will connect China to the Arabian Sea and aid Islamabad’s economic development.

During an assault captured by CCTV and broadcast on local news channels, a young, educated mother from a well-to-do family blew herself up. Baloch separatists claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to a video posted on social media, separatists warned China not to enter Pakistan anymore.

Despite months having passed since the attack, Pakistani authorities remain deeply concerned.

“The government is deeply concerned about attacks against Chinese nationals and projects within Pakistan,” the interior ministry said to Reuters last week, adding that it actively pursued militant groups.

The Baloch National Army (BLA), which issued the video, is involved in a decades-long insurgency that usually targets Pakistani security forces.

Nevertheless, the BLA has attacked Chinese nationals in recent years because Beijing ignored warnings against entering Balochistan deals and agreements.

In the resource-rich province, China is involved in major mining and infrastructure projects, including the deep-water Gwadar port, all as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

A masked gunman begins the video by addressing China in English. He says: “President of China, you still have time to get out of Balochistan. Otherwise, you will be taken out by methods you will never forget it.”

A few minutes later, Shari Hayat Baloch, 30, is filmed in combat fatigues walking in a park with her young son and daughter.

The 30-year-old smiles and thanks fellow Baloch separatist fighters for giving her this “opportunity.”

China’s interior ministry said a team of officials traveled to Pakistan to assist with investigations, a sign of Beijing’s seriousness regarding the attack.

According to the ministry, Chinese officials assisted Pakistan’s counterterrorism forces in enhancing CCTV footage and retrieving data from cell phones.

It took nearly two months for the team to sift through tens of thousands of data files, according to four Pakistani sources involved in the investigation, and they left late August. By following these leads, Pakistani authorities were able to identify the main suspect in the university attack, who was arrested in July.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will meet President Xi Jinping after he secured a third term in office this week, where he will discuss security for Beijing’s interests in Pakistan.

When Hayat detonated explosives in her rucksack while driving by a minivan carrying three Chinese teachers, the science teacher – who held a masters degree in Zoology – had plans to enroll in a second masters degree.

According to the four officials involved in the investigation, she became radicalized at the university in the Balochistan capital Quetta through the Baloch Students Organization (BSO).

“The exact reasons why Hayat joined the Baloch armed struggle are unclear,” said an undated report drafted by the counterterrorism department.

“However, she continued to be a member of the Baloch Students Organization Azad during her student days.” said the report.

In contrast to the broader BSO, its breakaway faction BSO Azad has been banned by authorities as an extremist faction.

Hayat’s future husband, Habitan Baloch, was a leading figure in BSO Azad during the time Hayat later married him.

According to the four officials, another influential figure in Hayat’s life was Karima Baloch, an activist who was ranked among BBC’s 100 most influential and inspirational women in 2016.

She moved to Canada that year, saying she had received threats in Pakistan. Her body was found off Toronto in late 2020, causing Hayat to join the BLA.

According to Toronto police, Karima’s death was not criminal in nature.

According to two Pakistani investigators, Hayat was introduced to families of disappeared or found dead people as part of brainwashing by the wife of a slain former leader of the BLA.

Habitan, a dentist, tweeted on the day of the attack that he was “beamed with pride” at his wife’s actions.

It has since been removed, and Pakistani authorities say they have no knowledge of Habitan’s whereabouts or the whereabouts of the couple’s children.

Hayat’s father, Mohammed Hayat, a retired civil servant, said “In our families, everyone talks about the resistance, that’s a normal thing. I never knew that she could ever have extremist inclinations.”

Baloch students suspected of involvement in the bombing were detained by Pakistani law enforcement agencies following the bombing.

An official in charge of counterterrorism said all of them have been released since then.

Several times in the past, Pakistan has blamed old enemy India for supporting the Balochistan insurgency. India denies the charge.

John Nightbridge is a veteran reporter, researcher, and economic policy major from UCLA. Passionate about world issues and potential ways to solve them is a significant focus of his work. Writing freelance and reading the news are John's passions at work. Outside of work, it's all about sky diving, surfing, and stock market modeling.