The attack that took place in Karachi’s Saddar area on Wednesday, where a Chinese national was shot dead and two others were injured after an unidentified assailant opened fire inside a dental clinic, is part of a formidable dark agenda instigated by non-state actors against Pakistan’s foreign policy. These attacks must not be seen in isolation—Chinese citizens have been consistently targeted this year by anti-Pakistan elements. The most notable attack, which sent shockwaves across the country, remains the horrific suicide bombing in the Confucius Institute at Karachi University in May; but there have been several other incidents this year targeting Chinese citizens, amplifying the need to increase protection for workers and those involved in CPEC.

After the first attack in May, China and Pakistan’s foreign ministers released statements saying that China and Pakistan were committed to thwarting any attempts, including terrorism instigated by external actors, to undermine bilateral ties, and with regards to the attack on Chinese nationals, both countries would take firm and effective measures to deal with it. Those promises and resolve appear unreliable when these incidents, like the one that took place on Wednesday, continue to happen. This lapse in security seems even more incriminating considering a previous incident of violence against Chinese citizens occurred earlier in the year at the very same place, Saddar, Karachi.

The sole purpose of these attacks is to weaken Pakistan. These consistent attempts to target Chinese nationals and disrupt progress in the country are evidence that a larger game to disrupt the country’s development and harm relationships is at play. The authorities must take note of the new insidious ways with which these non-state actors are trying to sabotage CPEC and threaten the stability and peace of the country. We need to invest in better security—and security does not just mean physical guarding forces around foreign residents in Pakistan, but better intelligence gathering and working on eliminating sleeper cells from urban centres.