PM says govt will leave ‘no stone unturned’ in ensuring security of Chinese nationals

Published April 1, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses a function in Dasu on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses a function in Dasu on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Monday that the government would “leave no stone left unturned” to ensure the security of Chinese nationals and projects in Pakistan.

He made the remarks while speaking in Upper Kohistan’s Dasu to engineers from a Chinese company working on the dam project, according to Radio Pakistan. The premier was also accompanied by Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong.

The visit came days after five Chinese engineers — and their Pakistani driver — were killed in the suicide bombing on March 26 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 Bisham attack was part of a series of assaults in a span of a few days specifically targeting Chinese interests, including previous incidents at the Gwadar Port Authority Complex and the Turbat naval base, both of which are integral to CPEC. These consecutive attacks underlined the escalating security challenges facing Chinese projects and personnel in Pakistan.

The Bisham attack had 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.

Speaking in Dasu, the prime minister said: “I want to assure you that the government of Pakistan will not leave any stone unturned, will not spare any opportunity to make sure you get the best possible security for your families and yourself and that nothing will be left to chance.”

He added that he was aware his words would be put to the test but reassured that they were “our commitment to you”.

PM Shehbaz said Chinese personnel were present in the country to support Pakistan’s efforts towards building a prosperous and progressive nation, therefore, “their security is our security”.

The premier added that “foolproof arrangements” for their security would be ensured.

The prime minister said that the perpetrators of the Bisham attack would be caught and given “exemplary punishment” to deter similar incidents from taking place.

PM Shehbaz also elaborated on the various security measures and meetings held after the incident, adding that another high-level meeting was due in a few days.

“I want to assure my Chinese brothers that I will not rest until we have implemented security for you not just at Dasu, but all over Pakistan,” he said.

He said the enemies of China and Pakistan and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be “comprehensively defeated”.

PM Shehbaz termed the Bisham attack a “cowardly act” aimed at disturbing and weakening the “exceptional friendship” between the two countries.

“This is the job of the enemies of Pakistan […] The enemies of this friendship do not spare any opportunity to damage and create this rift between these two iron brothers.”

Bisham attack

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 a ravine.

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 March 27, 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.

Subsequently, the Foreign Office had stated that the attack would not impact CPEC and other aspects of bilateral cooperation between China and Pakistan.

On Friday, a team of Chinese investigators in the country to probe the Bisham attack met Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi. According to a statement issued by the Mini­stry of Interior, the minister visited the Chinese embassy in Islamabad and briefed the team on the ongoing investigation and provided updates on the progress made so far.

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