Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would review security arrangements for the Chinese nationals working in the country in the wake of the suicide attack at the Karachi University that killed three Chinese teachers and a local man, according to a media report. In view of potential threats being faced by the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other joint ventures between the two countries, the prime minister would assess all the mechanisms earlier devised for ensuring the security of the Chinese nationals and the new plan being made by the planning and interior ministries.
The Express Tribune newspaper citing its sources said that the security plan would be presented to Shehbaz in the first week after Eid. China last week asked Pakistan to scale-up security for its nationals working in the country and demanded a thorough investigation and punishment to the perpetrators behind the suicide attack at the Karachi University. On April 26, an explosion triggered by a burqa-clad woman suicide bomber from Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) ripped through a shuttle passenger van of the Confucius Institute at the prestigious University of Karachi leaving three Chinese teachers dead and one injured, in the latest targeted attack against Chinese citizens in Pakistan.
The paper said the premier had also directed Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Ahsan Iqbal to meet the country heads of all the Chinese companies working in Pakistan to seek their input in security and other arrangements. The sources said the planning minister was scheduled to visit Gwadar soon after Eid to examine the security arrangements and complaints, if any, by the Chinese companies and nationals working on CPEC projects.
Prime Minister Shehbaz has also directed the interior ministry to engage provinces, especially the Balochistan government, for the provision of security in Gwadar and submit a report in the first week after Eid. Apart from security arrangements, the ministries have been asked to examine the challenges confronted by CPEC projects and see what problems were the Chinese nationals facing for the last four years in connection with their work, visa issuance as well as extension among other matters.
The Gilgit-Baltistan government has also directed the officials concerned to make foolproof security arrangements for Chinese nationals in the wake of the recent and earlier attacks on them. “I am directed to refer (to) the recent suicide attack in Karachi that killed three Chinese nationals and to say that the Chief Secretary has desired to ensure special protection of Chinese nationals in Gilgit-Baltistan,” a letter issued by the G-B additional secretary read.
Keeping the potential threats to CPEC and other joint ventures, the letter added, the existing standard operating procedures (SOPs) were required to be reviewed and updated to ensure foolproof security of Chinese nationals working in the geographic limits of G-B. “The home department shall establish a provincial foreigners security cell, with requisite staff and logistics, to coordinate security SOPs and access to information of all Chinese nationals visiting Gilgit-Baltistan.”
The letter further stated that the cell should regularly liaison with regional and federal law-enforcement agencies. The G-B government has directed the commissioners and senior police officers to personally visit the Chinese camps and facilities for inspection of security apparatus. The suicide bombing in Karachi has aggravated concerns about the safety of the Chinese nationals living in Pakistan and tested the patience of the country’s “iron friend” with repeated attacks by the terrorist groups in the recent past.
Earlier in July 2021, a bus carrying Chinese workers in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had come under attack leaving 10 Chinese nationals dead and 28 others injured. China, the key investor in Pakistan, has demanded that Islamabad should take action against those involved in them. Thousands of Chinese personnel are working in Pakistan on a host of projects being carried out under the aegis of the CPEC.