China remains mute on Afghan Taliban participation but supports Pakistan’s investigation into terrorist assaults on its personnel.

China remains mute on Afghan Taliban participation but supports Pakistan’s investigation into terrorist assaults on its personnel.

China on Monday voiced its support for Pakistan’s investigation into the recent suicide attack targeting Chinese personnel at a hydroelectric dam in that country but refrained from holding Afghanistan’s Taliban interim government responsible for sheltering the militants, as alleged by Islamabad.

Five Chinese engineers and their Pakistani driver were killed when an explosives-packed vehicle rammed into their bus in the troubled province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in March, in the second suicide attack on the personnel working on the China-backed hydropower project since 2021.

The Chinese were working on the Dasu hydropower project, which is about 300 km to the north of Islamabad. The 4,320 MW project is being constructed by China Gezhouba with funding from the World Bank.

“China attaches great importance to the important progress made by the Pakistani side on the investigation of the terrorist attack,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a media briefing here.

She was responding to a question about Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi press conference on Sunday during which he asked Afghanistan’s Taliban government to hand over the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists allegedly involved in the attack on Chinese workers.

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Naqvi alleged that the attack was planned in Afghanistan and executed with the help of handlers and facilitators based in Pakistan.

“Whether Afghanistan tries the terrorists (in the court of law) or not, it should hand over the militants to Pakistan,” he had said.

Reacting to Naqvi’s allegations, Mao said China supports Pakistan in continuing to get to the full bottom of what happened, and hunting down and bringing to justice all the perpetrators.

“China will continue to work with Pakistan to strengthen security cooperation and ensure the safety and security of Chinese personnel, projects, and institutions in Pakistan,” she said, adding that terrorism is a common enemy of humanity and a scourge against regional development and stability.

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Without naming Afghanistan, Mao said, “China calls on countries in the region to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation, root out all terrorist organisations, remove their breeding ground, and protect the common security and development interests of all countries.” China is in a quandary about the allegations and counter allegations by Pakistan and Afghan Taliban, previously close allies, accusing each other of harbouring terrorists.

Beijing also shares close ties with the Taliban government in Afghanistan and has extended diplomatic recognition to the regime.

While Pakistan accuses the Taliban government of harbouring TTP militants, Kabul charged Islamabad of sheltering Daesh (IS) terrorists.

The Taliban government has already rejected Pakistan’s allegations. In a statement on May 8, the Afghan Defence Ministry rejected Pakistan’s claim that the plot to kill five Chinese engineers was hatched in Afghanistan.

The Afghan defence ministry spokesperson Enayatullah Khwarazmi in a statement termed the claims “irresponsible and far from the reality”.

He said blaming Afghanistan for such incidents was a “failed attempt to divert attention from the truth”, adding that the killing of Chinese citizens in an area which was “under tight security cover of the Pakistani army shows the weakness of the Pakistani security agencies”.

Khwarazmi had said the Taliban government has “assured China on this matter and the country has also understood the fact that Afghans are not involved in such issues.” He alleged that members of the militant Islamic State group were “entering Afghanistan from Pakistan”.

“We have much evidence of Daesh (IS) who came to Afghanistan from the territory of Pakistan, and Pakistan’s territory being used against us for which Pakistan should answer,” Khwarazmi said.

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Meanwhile, the cash-strapped Pakistan government has decided to pay USD 2.58 million to the families of Chinese workers killed in the attack amounting to USD 5,16,000 per head, as a goodwill gesture.

Thousands of Chinese personnel are working in Pakistan on several projects being carried out under the aegis of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Some have been attacked in recent years by militants who accuse them of exploiting mineral resources.

Pakistan has repeatedly urged the Afghan Taliban to take action against the TTP fighters who are using Afghan soil to attack Pakistan. However, Afghanistan has shown reluctance to take action against the rebels, who in the past fought shoulder-to-shoulder with them against the NATO forces.

Pakistan had provided support to the Afghan Taliban with the hope that after coming to power, they would take action against elements using the Afghan territory to launch attacks on Pakistan.

But its hopes floundered when the Afghan Taliban refused to take any action and instead asked Pakistan to hold talks with the TTP. The talks failed and the TTP launched a ruthless campaign of terror against Pakistan.

The TTP is an umbrella group of several militant outfits formed in 2007.

Our Correspondent

Our Correspondent

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