China Says ‘Deeply Rooted’ Ties with Pakistan Unaffected by Terror Attack

ISLAMABAD — China said Wednesday it had asked Pakistan to “speed up the hunt” for those behind the previous day’s terrorist attack that killed five Chinese workers and their local driver.  

The foreign ministry spokesman told a news conference in Beijing that both countries were working closely to ensure “effective steps” were taken to protect the safety and security of Chinese personnel in Pakistan.

Lin Jian said that Islamabad “promised to thoroughly investigate the incident, provide timely updates on the progress of the investigation, (and) strengthen security measures for Chinese personnel, projects, and institutions.”  

A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a convoy of Chinese engineers in a mountainous northern Pakistani district on Tuesday, killing five of them and their local driver.  

No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, though Islamabad suspected militants linked to the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, were behind it. The TTP, a globally designated terrorist group, denied its involvement in the attacks, saying it targets only Pakistani security forces.

“China firmly supports Pakistan in fighting terrorism,” Lin said, adding that the two countries ” have the resolve and capability to make the terrorists pay the price.” He reiterated that Beijing and Islamabad “are all-weather strategic cooperative partners” and “no attempt to sabotage” the cooperation “will ever succeed.”

The victims of Tuesday’s suicide bombing were working on the Chinese-funded multibillion-dollar Dasu Dam in the Kohistan district on the Indus River, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan.  

The attack was the second on Chinese engineers associated with the project. In mid-2021, a suicide car bombing targeted a bus convoy in the area, killing nine Chinese nationals and three Pakistani co-workers.

In Islamabad, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired an emergency security meeting Wednesday to discuss Tuesday’s “heinous attack” and vowed “to bring to justice swiftly” the perpetrators, his office said.  

The statement said, “The acts targeting Pakistan-China friendship are particularly aimed at creating mistrust between the two iron brothers.”  

US Reaction

The United States also condemned Tuesday’s attack in Pakistan.  

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and injuries sustained and share our heartfelt condolences with those affected by the attack,” Mathew Miller, the State Department spokesman, told reporters in Washington.  

“I’ll note that PRC (People’s Republic of China) nationals in Pakistan have also been the victims of terrorist attacks, and no country should suffer the acts of terror,” Miller added.  

Beijing and Islamabad have close economic and defense ties. In recent years, China has invested billions of dollars in Pakistan to build road networks, power plants, and the deep-water Arabian Sea port at Gwadar in southwestern Baluchistan province.  

The collaboration is taking place under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, an extension of President Xi Jinping’s global infrastructure program, the Belt and Road Initiative.

Pakistan has recently experienced a dramatic surge in terror attacks that officials allege stem from TTP sanctuaries in Afghanistan. Islamabad says the violence has intensified since the Islamist Taliban reclaimed power in the war-ravaged neighboring country.  

Earlier this month, Pakistani warplanes bombed TTP hideouts inside Afghan border provinces. Islamabad defended the military action, saying diplomatic efforts to pursue the Taliban to rein in the terrorists did not work.  

Separatist insurgents have lately also stepped-up attacks against security forces in Baluchistan.  

Over the past week, insurgents stormed a key government complex in Gwadar and assaulted a significant Pakistan Navy aviation base in nearby Turbat district. Several Pakistani security personnel and around a dozen assailants were killed in both attacks.


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