Bisham terror attack orchestrated by enemies of Pak-China friendship, FO says

Published March 28, 2024
Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch addresses a weekly press briefing in Islamabad on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch addresses a weekly press briefing in Islamabad on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

The Foreign Office (FO) said on Thursday that there was no doubt that Tuesday’s suicide attack in Bisham — which claimed the lives of six people including five Chinese nationals — was “orchestrated by the enemies of Pak-China friendship”.

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.

The attack prompted China to demand a thorough probe into the deadly blast and security for its citizens. In response, Islamabad announced a swift probe to hold the “perpetrators and accomplices” accountable.

According to police, the bus was travelling from Islamabad to Kohistan when it came under the attack on Karakoram Highway. “It was a suicide attack on the Chinese convoy and an explosive-laden vehicle approaching from Kohistan hit the bus,” Bisham Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Juma Rehman told Dawn. SDPO Rehman said that following the attack, the bus caught fire and fell into the ravine.

“A huge amount of explosives were used in the attack, the force of which threw the bus into the ravine,” he said. The officer said that police cordoned off the area to collect evidence. “We have also collected body parts of the suspected suicide bomber from the site,” SDPO Rehman said.

Soon after the bombing, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif along with his cabinet members visited the Chinese embassy to assure Beijing about security for its citizens and promise a comprehensive probe into the suicide bombing.

On Wednesday, 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 also decided to form a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the attack.

Today, FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch addressed a weekly press briefing where she said that Pakistan was in contact with the Chinese government regarding the “heinous attack”.

She said Pakistan was “fully committed to bringing terrorists, and their facilitators and abettors to justice”.

“Such despicable attacks further strengthen Pakistan’s resolve in combatting terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations,” the FO spokesperson said.

“Pakistan and China are close friends and iron brothers. We have no doubt that the Bisham terror attack was orchestrated by the enemies of Pakistan-China friendship,” she stated.

“Together, we will resolutely act against all such acts and forces and defeat them,” Baloch said.

“Pakistan will continue to work with our Chinese brothers in ensuring the safety and security of Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in Pakistan,” she said.

Deaths of Chinese prompt renewed anti-terror resolve

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.

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), PM Shehbaz 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, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Asim Munir reiterated the resolve of the 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.

UNSC condemns attack

The UN Security Council (UNSC) 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 UNSC 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.

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