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Photo Source: The News International

Pakistan Reader# 735, 28 March 2024

The suicide attack on Chinese: Where and Why



This is not the first time, there has been an attack on the Chinese in the region.

D. Suba Chandran

In Focus
On 26 March 2024, a suicide attack in Khyber Paktunkwa province killed six, including five Chinese engineers. According to Dawn, “…after the blast, the vehicle with the Chinese passengers fell into a gorge and caught fire.”

Where did the attack take place?
It took place in Besham, a town in the Shangla district in Khyber Pakhtunkwa province, that connects the province with Gilgit Baltistan, and is part of the Karakoram Highway. The KKH connects GB with the rest of Pakistan.
The Highway N35 runs through Besham and connects Manshera and Abbottabad in the south to Gilgit in the north in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and then gets connected with the Chinese National Highway G-314 that connects Khunjerab with Kashgar in Xinjiang, and runs all the way to Urumqi.

What were/are the Chinese doing in Besham, KP?
The five Chinese who were killed in the suicide attack in Besham were reported to be working in the Dasu Hydro Power Project, in the Kohistan district in the KP province. According to the official portal, “Dasu Hydropower Project is a run of river project on the Indus River located 7km upstream of Dasu Town, District Kohistan (Upper), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The site is 74km downstream of the proposed Diamer Basha Dam site and 345km from Islamabad. The project will generate 4320MW (12 Units @ 360 MW each) hydroelectric power with an annual energy of 21445GWh and will be developed in two (02) Stages (Stage-I&II). Stage-I will generate 2160MW (06 Units @ 360MW each) with an annual energy of 12,222GWh. Stage-I will be completed in five (05) years. The project is being financed by the World Bank. Dasu Hydropower Project is one of the priority projects under the Power Policy 2013 and the Vision 2025 of the Government of Pakistan.” (Dasu Hydropower Project, https://dasuhpp.com)

This is not the first time, there has been an attack on the Chinese in the region. In July 2021, after an explosion, a bus fell into a raving, killing 13 including nine Chinese. In November 2022, an anti-terrorism court awarded a death sentence for two men for planning the above. The Chinese were working on the above Dasu hydropower project.

The Dasu hydropower project is a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Why are the Chinese being targeted in Pakistan?
According to a press release from the ISPR, “The recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan, notably in Gwadar, Turbat, and Besham, are dastardly acts aimed at destabilizing the internal security situation…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. Certain foreign elements are complicit in aiding and abetting terrorism in Pakistan, driven by their vested interests. Despite the veneer of innocence, these elements are being continuously exposed as sponsors of terror.”

According to a press release from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the attack “was orchestrated by the enemies of Pakistan-China friendship.” On 27 March, the Gilgit Baltistan Assembly was reported to have passed a resolution terming the attack as a conspiracy to undermine the friendship between Pakistan and China.

During recent years, there has been a series of incidents from Gwadar to Dasu, targeting Chinese nationals and, thereby, Chinese projects.

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