|Pakistan’s “all-weather ally” China has demanded USD 38 million compensation for the 36 Chinese nationals who were victims of a blast at the Dasu Dam Project. After the attack, Chinese contractor demobilised from the site and laid several demands as preconditions to resume the work which included a compensation package and more security of Chinese nationals. As per Pakistani media reports from different media houses, Pakistan has decided to make the payment, despite no legal or contractual obligation on the government. As per Pakistani media reports, the Chinese firm, China Gezhouba Group Corp has also claimed a commercial compensation of another 39 million USD prior to resuming work on the stalled Dasu Hydropower Project. A total of 10 Chinese national lost their lives and another 26 were hurt in a suicide attack on a bus that was carrying them to the work site of the Dasu Hydropower Project in July last year. Media report said, govt is hopeful that the compensation issue will be sorted out with China within a couple of weeks, after which civil work on the site will resume.
However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responding to a related question told the media at a regular press conference in Beijing that work at Dasu hydropower project has resumed. He neither confirmed nor denied the report of the hefty compensation package which a debt-ridden Pakistan has to shell out. The 4,320MW Dasu Hydropower Project is being constructed by China Gezhouba with funding from the World Bank.
Another Pakistani media report quoting Pakistan’s Railway Minister Azam Swati said, Pakistan requested China for a provision of 2.43 billion USD loan more than a year ago for Pakistan’s ML-1 railway project, but commitment of loan is still awaited from Chinese side. The report also said that work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had slowed down considerably over the past 3.5 years and there is no new project approved by both sides. India has consistently opposed CPEC projects as it violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Zhao Lijian termed this Pakistani media report as “pure disinformation”. Cited COVID-19 pandemic, he said, this is a project of huge investment, competent authorities between the two sides are in consultation over it. As per reports, Pakistan’s net Government debt is Rs 37,873 billion, equivalent to 75.3 % of GDP.