Pakistan’s Terrorism Problem Now Threatens Ties with China, too

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Pakistan’s security challenge is getting worse with three attacks on Chinese projects in the space of one week. It is also straining relations with China which is more concerned about investment and support for infrastructure projects in Pakistan.

A suicide bomber rammed a vehicle into a convoy of Chinese engineers working on a dam project in northwest Pakistan, killing six people. This is the second time that Chinese engineers tied to the Dasu project have been attacked, the last time being in July 2021 when 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.

At that time the Pakistani government first called it an accident and only after public statement by China referring to it as a terror attack, did the then Imran Khan government refer to it as terrorism. This time round, most likely to prevent any such occurrence, the Chinese government right away issued a strong statement. “The Chinese embassy and consulates in Pakistan have immediately launched emergency work, demanding that the Pakistani side conduct a thorough investigation into the attack, severely punish the perpetrators and take practical and effective measures to protect the safety of Chinese citizens.”

To demonstrate support, the ISPR issued a statement: “The whole nation stands in solidarity with our Chinese brothers and unequivocally condemns this cowardly act. Strategic projects and sensitive sites vital for Pakistan’s economic progress and the well-being of its people are being targeted as a conscious effort to retard our progress and sow discord between Pakistan and its strategic allies and partners, most notably China.”

At the end of the day, however, the only way that Pakistan can reassure China, or any other country that wants to invest in Pakistan, is if the Pakistani security state cracks down on every terrorist group within the country and at the same time reaches out to the various sub-national groups that reside in the country.

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Author: Ahsan Kureshi

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