A few days after the bus explosion in Pakistan, which killed nine Chinese engineers and workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province; Photos of “Chinese workers” carrying AK-47 assault rifles are being posted online. Some media outlets have posted photos and comments with “growing suspicions” between China and Pakistan.
The bus explosion, which China called a ” terrorist attack “, is also seen as Pakistan’s failure to provide adequate security for Chinese nationals, who are working on many projects. in this country.
An AK-47 assault rifle slung over the shoulders of two men pictured, media networks and social media posts claim that Chinese workers have begun carrying guns to protect their security. them, after the bus bomb explosion.
Chinese workers often appear at some construction sites and are known for their special attire, or safety equipment such as helmets. In such a situation, it would not make sense for them to work on a construction site, holding a heavy Kalashnikov, the information said.
Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry said that on July 23, the bodies of nine Chinese employees killed in a terrorist attack in Pakistan had returned to the motherland on a chartered plane from China. Pakistani Airlines.
After an initial dispute between China and Pakistan over the nature of the attack, Islamabad confirmed the blast was an “act of terrorism”; Although no terrorist group has yet claimed responsibility.
Speculating the role of Taliban separatists in Pakistan and Balochistan in the incident, Chinese analysts also did not rule out the possibility of a “third party”, without mentioning any country.
The $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has caused distrust among people in Balochistan, a resource-rich region of Pakistan; the people saw this as a kind of “new colonialism”.
Recently, fighting has been particularly intense in the southern province of Pakistan, home to the strategic port of Gwadar, an important part of CPEC. The Balochs have accused the Pakistani government of forced migration and suppression of local separatist movements.
The situation became so complicated that Pakistan had to deploy two Special Security Divisions (SSDs), to protect the project sites and Chinese citizens working, from violent attacks.
While Pakistan claims to have invested nearly $6 million to enhance its special operations units, China is injecting huge sums of money into training and equipping these forces. Despite such efforts, attacks by extremist groups continue.
In June 2020, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi, which houses the headquarters of several Chinese companies involved in the CPEC project.
Some information shows that there are conflicts between Chinese workers and SSD officers. This has led to several near-riot situations in which skirmishes go awry. Part of Pakistan’s troubles is the result of China’s meddling in its internal affairs.
News of the photos went viral, questioning China-Pakistan relations, following the social backlash in Pakistani communities and the security risks Chinese workers face . However, the two sides still defied security challenges and continue to be strategic partners.
In an article published by the Global Times, author Mu Lu writes that, despite the close cooperation of Beijing and Islamabad in counter-terrorism efforts, some extremist groups in Pakistan, may have receiving support from abroad, making the security situation “complicated”.
However, according to Mu Lu, Islamabad has the ability and political will, to prevent terrorist attacks, against Chinese personnel in Pakistan, despite challenges to the security situation and potential violence. potential, targeting Chinese interests and investments there.
Mu Lu also reiterated Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s reminder in July 2020 that his government would complete the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) “by all means”.
China’s Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi told Global Times that Pakistan has been asked to fully investigate security risks to Chinese employees, organizations and projects in Pakistan.
Pakistan must close the loopholes, strengthen the early warning system, security measures and best efforts, to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel and prevent similar incidents from happening again.
Meanwhile, China continues to cooperate with Pakistan in the investigation. It is reported that the Ministry of Public Security of China has sent criminal investigation experts to Pakistan to assist in the investigation of the terrorist attack.