China asks Pak to scale up security for its citizens; demands punishment to perpetrators behind Karachi varsity blast
Beijing: China on Wednesday 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 which killed three Chinese teachers and injured another.
The blood of the Chinese cannot be shed in vain, and those behind this incident will surely pay the price, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said while strongly condemning the latest attack on Chinese nationals working in Pakistan.
“Once again, we mourn the passing of the Chinese and Pakistani victims and extend our sincere sympathies to the victims and to the injured and the bereaved families,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here responding to questions on the Karachi blast.
“This is a premeditated suicide terrorist attack targeting Chinese citizens and the target is teachers they carry on human civilization and promote cultural exchange. It is an egregious and heinous attack,” he said.
“China expresses strong condemnation and indignation. People and life come first. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions overseas,” he said.
On Tuesday, 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.
A spokesperson for the BLA, the separatist outfit which is banned in Pakistan, the UK and the US, said that the attack was carried out by Shari Baloch alias Bramsh – the “first female suicide bomber of the brigade”.
The attack that too by a woman suicide bomber from Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which is vocally opposing the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), sent shock waves here as it highlights deep rooted opposition to Chinese projects.
“Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao has made an urgent phone call to the Pakistani Ambassador to China to express extremely grave concern,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said.
“Wu demanded that the Pakistani side should immediately conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, apprehend and punish the perpetrators to the full extent of the law, and take all possible measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens in Pakistan and prevent such incidents from happening again,” it added.
Multiple channels of China asked the Pakistani side to take proper efforts to trace the injured and handle the follow up matter and conduct a thorough investigation, apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice and also take stronger measures to keep Chinese citizens and institutions safe and make sure such incidents won’t happen again, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
The Pakistan government has promised to give assistance in follow up matters and take further measures to keep strengthening security for Chinese people, projects, institutions will not allow any enforcement to undermine the two countries friendship and cooperation, he said.
Asked whether such attacks will affect the CPEC connecting China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s Balochistan where the locals opposed Chinese presence Wang said, “our ironclad friendship is unbreakable and attempts to undermine our cooperation, mutual trust and CPEC will not succeed”.
“Terrorism is a common scourge and Chinese blood will not be shed in vein in terrorism. China supports Pakistan in fighting terrorism and make the culprits behind the attack pay,” he said.
To another question, he said China has taken note of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad to convey condolences besides the Chief Minister of Sindh and other political parties.
Expressing its condolences to the victims and their families, the Chinese International Education Foundation, which is in charge of running the Confucius Institutes, on Tuesday strongly condemned the terror attack. It called on all Confucius Institutes to ensure the safety of staff amid current complicated international situations, the Global Times reported.
Quoting experts, the report said given the capability and willingness, the BLA is the biggest suspect but the Pakistan Taliban, Islamic State or the “East Turkistan Islamic Movement” could also be involved.
The BLA is one of the largest terror groups currently active in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and has carried out repeated attacks against Chinese targets, the report quoted Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, as saying.
“Karachi, where the attack took place, is the largest city in Pakistan, and it would be easy for the BLA to infiltrate the city,” said Qian, noting that it is extremely difficult to prevent terror attacks launched by this organisation, especially those against individuals.
Qian believes the terrorist attack on Chinese citizens is unlikely to be connected to the recent political changes in Pakistan. While there have been some protests since the change of leadership, the situation has not gotten out of hand.
The root cause of this terrorist attack is that the soil for the growth of terrorism and religious extremism in Pakistan has not been removed, and the environment in which terrorism thrives has always existed, Qian said.
Balochistan, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, is home to a long-running violent insurgency. Baloch insurgent groups have previously carried out several attacks targeting the USD 60 billion CPEC projects.
This is not the first-time Chinese nationals have been the target of terror attacks in Karachi, which is Pakistan’s biggest city and economic hub.
Thirteen people including nine Chinese were killed in a bomb attack on a bus carrying Chinese engineers at Dasu hydropower project in Pakistan last year.
Pakistan had paid USD 11.6 billion compensation to nine Chinese engineers who were killed in the blast.
Thousands of Chinese personnel are working in Pakistan on a host of projects being carried out under the aegis of the CPEC.
China State Construction has invested in a number of flagship projects under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, including the Peshawar-Karachi Motorway, the largest transportation infrastructure project under CPEC.