ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday assured China that foolproof security will be provided to all Chinese nationals working on different projects in Pakistan.

The president gave the assurance to Chinese Ambassador Jiang Zaidong during a meeting at the Aiwan-i-Sadr, according to a statement issued by the Presidency.

“Pakistan will take necessary measures to ensure the security of Chinese nationals working on different projects in the country,” the president said.

The meeting between the president and the Chinese envoy comes more than a week after five Chinese engineers and their Pakistani driver were killed in a suicide attack in Bisham area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

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The attack prompted China to demand a thorough probe into the deadly attack and security for its citizens.

In response, Islamabad had announced a swift probe to hold the perpetrators and accomplices of the attack to account. Chinese investigators had also arrived to join the probe.

In response to the Chinese government’s demand to promptly investigate the incident and act against those involved, the government had also decided to form a joint investigation team to investigate the matter.

The statement said President Zardari and Ambassador Zaidong discussed matters of mutual interest, besides underscoring the need to increase counter-terrorism cooperation and intelligence sharing to overcome the menace of terrorism.

“The president assured the ambassador that Pakistan would take all necessary measures to ensure security of our Chinese brothers, who are working on different projects in Pakistan,” it added.

The Bisham attack was part of a series of assaults in a span of a few days specifically targeting Chinese interests, including recent attacks at the Gwadar Port Authority Complex and the Naval base in Turbat.

These consecutive attacks underlined the escalating security challenges facing Chinese projects and personnel in Pakistan.

In a previous attack in July 2021, 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals, were killed 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.

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President Zardari also had a meeting with Russian Ambassador Albert P. Khorev and extended his condolences for several deaths in a terrorist attack last month in Moscow.

Mr Khorev told Mr Zardari that Russia desired to play its part in the economic development Pakistan and that both countries were cooperating on mutual issues such as anti-terrorism and drug trafficking.

The ambassador said that Russia desired to double the existing volume of bilateral trade with Pakistan and President Zardari also expressed the hope to increase bilateral trade, particularly in energy and barter trade.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2024

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