Deaths of Chinese prompt renewed anti-terror resolve

Published March 28, 2024
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a high-level security meeting, on Wednesday.—PPI
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a high-level security meeting, on Wednesday.—PPI

• PM, COAS, chief ministers attend security meeting; govt announces JIT; president offers condolences
• Beijing vows to defeat attempts to undermine China-Pakistan cooperation
• UNSC urges states to help catch perpetrators; US says no request made to assist with investigation

ISLAMABAD: A day after the killing of five Chinese nationals in a suicide attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bisham, the government reiterated its resolve to comprehensively combat terrorism by employing all resources available to the state and bring the perpetrators to justice swiftly.

In response to the Chinese government’s demand to promptly investigate the incident and act against those involved, the government on Wednesday also decided to form a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the attack.

The commitment to eradicate terrorism was echoed in an emergency meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The high-level meeting was also attended by Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Asim Munir, federal ministers, all chief ministers, chief secretaries, inspector generals of the provinces, chief secretaries, and IGs of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The five Chinese engineers — and their Pakistani driver — were killed in the suicide bombing on Tuesday while travelling between Islamabad and a hydroelectric dam construction site in Dasu, in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The bus was attacked in the Bisham city of KP’s Shangla district.

It was decided in the meeting that the government would crush the resurgence of terrorism in the country at any cost.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Mr Sharif offered his deepest condolences to the victims’ families and assured them that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.

The premier said the whole nation was saddened by the loss of Chinese lives and also gave instructions for a thorough joint investigation to be conducted, utilising all state resources.

“The acts targeting Pakistan-China friendship are particularly aimed at creating mistrust between the two iron brothers,” the prime minister was quoted as saying in the official statement.

During the meeting, the COAS reiterated the resolve of armed forces to eliminate the scourge of terrorism afflicting the country. Noting the recent surge in terrorist incidents, Gen Munir underestimated the resilience and grit of the state and the people of Pakistan“.

“We shall not leave any stone unturned to ensure that every foreign citizen, especially Chinese nationals, contributing to the prosperity of Pakistan, is safe and secure in Pakistan. We shall fight terrorism with all our might, to the very end,” he added.

Later, addressing an Iftar dinner hosted in honour of the members of the diplomatic corps at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday reiterated Pakistan’s firm support to global efforts for peace and stability without compromising on the security of its people, sovereignty and territorial integrity. He said, “As a peace-loving nation, Pakistan desires peace with all and enmity with none.”

Earlier, Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar said terrorist attacks in Moscow and Bisham reminded them of the collective threat. He said Pakistan would continue supporting the regional and global cooperation in addressing this menace. He said Pakistan was ready to build bridges for the agenda of peace in the entire world.

Message of unity

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar said the participants recognised the need for a “unified policy” against terrorism.

He said the nation was given a message of unity “that we unite when there is an attack on our interests and that we know how to protect ourselves and our friends”.

He said the meeting lauded the sacrifices of security forces, who saved precious lives from being lost while dealing with the recent attacks in Turbat, Gwadar and Bisham.

The minister said a JIT would be formed to probe the incident, adding that the “spirits were high” in the meeting and all the participants were on the same page. “This is our clear message that we will not rest until terrorism is eradicated,” he added.

President visits Chinese embassy

Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari visited the Chinese embassy on Wednesday and said enemies in the region couldn’t accept Pakistan and China’s strengthening of their bilateral ties.

The president visited the embassy to offer condolences over Tuesday’s killings. Prime Minister Sharif and Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi visited the Chinese embassy on Tuesday.

President Zardari assured Mr Jiang that the criminals involved in the attack would be apprehended and all necessary measures would be taken to ensure the security of Chinese citizens working on various projects in Pakistan.

The Chinese ambassador thanked the president for personally visiting the embassy to offer condolences. He appreciated that Pakistanis from all walks of life had condemned the terrorist attack.

He underscored the need to increase counterterrorism cooperation and enhance security for Chinese workers in Pakistan. The ambassador reiterated his country’s resolve to further strengthen cooperation with Pakistan and continue supporting CPEC and other projects.

Bids to undermine ties won’t succeed

Meanwhile, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson on Wednesday emphasised that China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic cooperative partners, APP reported.

No attempt to undermine China-Pakistan cooperation would succeed, Lin Jian said during his regular briefing in response to a question about the Bisham attack. He strongly condemned the act of terrorism and expressed deep condolences over the loss of lives.

He said that after the attack, the Chinese foreign ministry and the country’s embassy in Pakistan immediately activated an emergency response mechanism, swiftly took emergency response, engaged in close communication with Pakistan in Beijing and Islamabad and asked to thoroughly investigate the incident as soon as possible, hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

“We asked Pakistan to take effective measures to protect the safety and security of Chinese nationals, institutions and projects in Pakistan,” he added.

Mr Lin said the Pakistani side promised to thoroughly investigate this incident, share the progress with the Chinese side promptly, and strengthen the security measures to ensure the safety and security of Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in Pakistan.

UNSC condemns attack

The UN Security Council has also urged all UN member states to actively cooperate with Pakistan and China in apprehending the perpetrators of the Bisham attack.

In a statement issued in New York on Wednesday, the Security Council members strongly condemned the “heinous and cowardly terrorist attack”.

The 15-state council, including the five veto powers, reaffirmed that “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security”.

They emphasised the importance of apprehending perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of such reprehensible acts and ensuring their prosecution.

The council urged all states, in compliance with their obligations and relevant Security Council resolutions, to actively collaborate with the governments of Pakistan and China, as well as other relevant authorities, in this matter.

The council members reiterated that terrorism is criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of its motivation or perpetrators.

At a press briefing, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said he was not aware of any request from Pakistan to help investigate the Bisham attack.

Anwar Iqbal in Washington also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2024

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