Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said on Saturday that 15 Chinese officials have been included in the ongoing investigation on the Dasu bus tragedy in which 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals, were killed.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Rashid said that a 15-member team of Chinese investigators had arrived yesterday and visited the incident site with security agency officials.
"The investigation of the event is at its final stages and the highest institutions of Pakistan are investigating it. Fifteen individuals from China have been included [in the investigation] as well," the interior minister said.
Rashid said that the Chinese government had also been taken on board and was being informed about updates as they were received.
"We completely reassure the Chinese government that these culprits, hidden hands and enemies of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) and China-Pakistan friendship will never be forgiven at any cost."
Thirteen people – including nine Chinese nationals, two personnel of the Frontier Constabulary and two locals – were killed and 28 others sustained injuries when a coach carrying them to an under-construction tunnel site of the 4,300-megawatt Dasu hydropower project fell into a ravine in the Upper Kohistan area after an explosion on Wednesday.
Although the Foreign Office had initially termed the incident an accident, the government later said traces of explosives had been found, with Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry saying "terrorism could not be ruled out."
China had later announced that it was sending a team to Pakistan to deal with the aftermath of the incident. “Today China will send a cross-departmental joint working group to Pakistan to help with relevant work,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian had said at a media briefing in Beijing.
The interior minister said that the two countries shared an "all-weather friendship" that could not be affected by such events.
Rashid said a similar effort, to impact Pakistan's relationship with China, had failed in Quetta, referring to a blast at the Serena Hotel at a time when the Chinese ambassador was visiting.
"They were successful in their scheme in Dasu but this success is temporary because our relations with China are higher than the Himalayas."
The people involved in the incident would be brought under the ambit of law and exposed, the interior minister said, adding that arrests had been made from Lahore.
Elaborating on other measures in the wake of the incident, he said the prime minister had instructed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit China and the Ministry of Interior had directed security agencies to increase the protection of Chinese workers in Pakistan.
Rashid claimed that the Dasu incident was planned days before a meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee of CPEC — originally scheduled for Friday (July 16). The meeting was subsequently postponed in the incident's aftermath.
Situation at Chaman border
Questioned about the situation at the Chaman border, Rashid said the interior ministry was looking after border management and all institutions were alert and prepared to take on any eventuality.
"At the moment no incident has happened that merits serious notice," he said.
The interior minister also said some arrests had been made in Peshawar when questioned on the display of Afghan Taliban flags in some areas.
Regarding the Afghan issue, Rashid stressed that peace in Pakistan was linked to peace in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan had a clear stance that it would not allow its land to be used against Afghanistan or "allow anyone else's land to be used against us".
The interior minister also rubbished reports of thousands of fake passports issued by the Federal Investigation Agency. He said those responsible for issuing "a few hundred fake passports" had been arrested.
"Three people had been arrested earlier, five more have been arrested and 19 people have been sent show-cause notices," Rashid said.
He also said instructions had been issued and some time given to illegal residents with expired visas and fake identity cards to leave the country without facing fines.