Wednesday, January 19, 2022

China asks Pakistan to upgrade safety measures as Chinese national injured in suicide attack in Gwadar

China has asked Pakistan to upgrade its safety measures after a motorcade carrying Chinese workers was attacked this weekend in Gwadar, a coastal town in Balochistan in Southwest Pakistan.

A suicide bomber attacked a motorcade of the Gwadar East Bay expressway project heading to the Gwadar port which is a part of multi billion dollars China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

The attack killed two Pakistanis and injured three including a Chinese national.

Amid signs of growing resentment at Chinese presence and the projects in the country, this suicide attack comes only a month after nine Chinese nationals were killed when a bus carrying Chinese engineers and workers to the site of the Dasu Dam was attacked in the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

China sent a special investigative team to Pakistan after Dasu attack. China’s Ambassador to Pakistan was also targeted in a terrorist attack on his hotel in April, though he was not hurt.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Monday condemn the attack.

State media reported that Chinese Embassy in Pakistan asked Pakistan to upgrade its safety measures to ensure such incidents won’t happen again.

Meanwhile, protests have also erupted in Gwadar city against a severe shortage of water and electricity and threats to livelihoods, part of a growing backlash against China’s multibillion-dollar belt and road projects in the country.

Protesters accused Pakistan government of ignoring their basic demands and accused China of undermining their livelihoods and creating local food shortages by illegal fishing.

As per media reports, this past week, demonstrators including fishers and other local workers largely shut down the Gwadar city in Balochistan and chanted slogans to demand water and electricity and a stop to Chinese trawlers illegally fishing in the nearby waters and then taking the fish to China.

Responsibility for the suicide attack was claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which like other militant groups in the region accuses Chinese of exploiting Balochistan’s mineral resources and has previously attacked Chinese nationals and the Chinese consulate in Karachi.

Under the CPEC project, Pakistan surrendered Gwadar port to a Chinese-backed multinational corporation for a lease of 40 years.

It is part of China’s massive belt and road initiative, which stretches across 70 countries to give China a clear trade route from east Asia to Europe amid other geopolitical gains.

The Pakistan government hoped that China’s investment in the region would help boost the country’s ailing economy.

Balochistan is Pakistan’s most undeveloped and most neglected region, and Gwadar is not connected to the national grid.

Despite promise of development in the region after Pakistan gave Gwadar port to China, there is no trickle-down of development projects under CPEC.

In Balochistan which is home to a long-running violent insurgency, China’s presence in Gwadar has been the cause of much social unrest and led to great anti-Chinese sentiment.

It has also given a fillip to Baloch insurgent groups, who have carried out terrorist attacks in protest at CPEC projects.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin also said, “China firmly opposes any force using terrorism for geopolitical gains and calls on regional countries to work together to eradicate all terrorist organizations.”

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