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China knocks on Taliban’s door to stop attacks on its nationals

The Afghan situation is giving a scare to China (Photo: IANS)

“The security situation in Pakistan has been severe” says the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, in a statement related to the suicide attack in Gwadar on Friday. Annoyed, China has demanded to “upgrade the security mechanism” so that “similar incidents do not happen again,” says the press release by the Chinese embassy in Islamabad.  This was an unusual statement by China which came after yet another attack on a Chinese engineer working on the  project in Gwadar in Balochistan. Gwadar port is the starting point of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). CPEC terminates in Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region, but Beijing wants to extend it to Afghanistan, rich in natural resources including the much sought-after rare-earth minerals.

The suicide bomber of Majeed Brigade of banned  Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), targeted  a vehicle carrying Chinese nationals. Two boys were killed and four others, including a Chinese national, injured. BLA, which like other militant groups like anti-Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) in the region, accuses China of exploiting Balochistan’s mineral resources, and has previously attacked Chinese nationals and the Chinese consulate in Karachi.

Miffed, China demanded that “relevant departments at all levels in Pakistan must take practical and effective measures to accelerate to implement strengthened whole-process security measures and upgraded security cooperation mechanism to ensure that similar incidents will not happen again.”

Last month, In July, a suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying workers to a dam construction site in Pakistan's northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province ,killing 13 people  including nine Chinese nationals. 

Pakistan had blamed India and Afghanistan for these attacks. 

Pakistani Foreign minister Shah Mohammad Qureshi alleged  that TTP, is funded by India and Afghanistan, and is responsible for these attacks. “As per our investigation the Afghan soil was used for this incident… about its planning and its execution, we're seeing a clear nexus between NDS and RAW,"  

While Chinese workers and diplomats have been targeted before in Pakistan, the scope and frequency of the attacks is growing, Beijing has ramped up pressure on Islamabad. China’s main worry is that these  attacks have been a huge blow to its interests in Pakistan. Now that  the Taliban is in power in Afghanistan, Chinese interests in Pakistan, and the $ 60 billion CPEC could become prime targets.  

Recently the Taliban has released TTP’s 4000 fighters including commanders from Afghan jails, who have regrouped in Pakistan. In a report, TTP has close ties with the  Uyghur East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Both militant groups are China’s most pressing security threats. For China, it’s a security-first concern for its CPEC projects. Everything else follows far behind, Beijing has run out of patience with the Pakistani military establishment, whom it has been paying a hefty amount of money  for creating and maintaining extra security for years . 

It seems that China has decided to deal with threats head on. 

Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu met the Taliban boss Mullah Baradar in Kandahar on Thursday and reminded him of the Chinese “offers” if the Taliban makes a clean break with all terrorist organizations including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), TTP which are major threats for Chinese investments. 

Also Read: Islamabad worried as more than 4,000 anti-Pak militants released by Taliban enter Pakistan