ISLAMABAD: Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong on Sunday met Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid to take up the issue of safety of Chinese nationals in Pakistan, demanding stronger security protocol for them.
The one-on-one meeting took place in the federal capital a couple of days after a suicide attack on a motorcade carrying Chinese nationals in Gwadar East-Bay Expressway claimed the lives of three Pakistani children and hurt one Chinese worker.
Mr Rashid said a joint strategy was being devised for the protection of Chinese companies and nationals in Pakistan. “We will improve security protocol of Chinese nationals at any cost,” he assured the ambassador.
The interior ministry quoted the ambassador as asking the interior minister to ensure “stronger security protocol” for Chinese nationals.
Minister says joint strategy being devised for protection of Chinese companies, nationals
The two sides also discussed the latest situation in neigbouring Afghanistan and its impact on Pakistan, as the minister apprised the ambassador that Pakistan was providing facilities to those fleeing the war-torn country. He said: “We will continue to play our role for permanent peace in Afghanistan as fast-changing developments have turned the region more important.”
The Chinese ambassador and the interior minister also vowed that the two countries would not allow development activities and cooperation to be held hostage by terrorists.
Recent weeks have witnessed an increase in scope and frequency of attacks on Chinese workers and diplomats in Pakistan.
According to media reports, armed motorcyclists had on July 28 opened fire on a car carrying Chinese nationals in Karachi, causing serious gunshot wounds.
The shooting came on the heels of a July 14 explosion that caused a bus carrying Chinese and Pakistani personnel for a Chinese-funded dam project in northwest Pakistan to plunge into a ravine, killing nine Chinese citizens and four Pakistanis.
On August 20, a motorcade carrying Chinese workers was attacked by a suicide bomber at the Gwadar East-Bay Expressway project. Two children were killed in the blast that also left several people, including one Chinese national, injured. Following the incident, the Pakistani side sent the wounded to a hospital in Gwadar for treatment, according to the Chinese embassy.
Hours later media reported that the banned Baloch Liberation Army had claimed responsibility for the attack.
In 2018, the militant outfit had also claimed responsibility for a gun-and-bomb attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi. Three terrorists were killed while two policemen and two civilians lost their lives, as security forces foiled the attack.
In a statement issued a day after the Gwadar motorcade attack, the Chinese embassy said: “Relevant departments at all levels in Pakistan must take practical and effective measures to implement strengthened whole-process security measures and upgrade security cooperation mechanism to ensure that similar incidents do not happen again.
“Recently, the security situation in Pakistan has worsened. There have been several terrorist attacks in succession, resulting in the casualties of several Chinese citizens. The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan reminds the Chinese citizens in Pakistan to be vigilant, strengthen safety precautions, reduce unnecessary outings, and take effective security protections.”
Work on the Gwadar East-Bay Expressway was launched in November 2017. The project is considered a highlight of the mega China-Pakistan Economic Corridor framework.
Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2021