Pakistan has incarcerated Chinese national, identified as ‘Mr Tian’, in solitary confinement at the Haripur Central jail in a bid to protect him from crowds wanting to lynch him for disrespect to Islam. In normal circumstances, charges of blasphemy invite fines or the death penalty, but often it is the radical mobs that deliver justice.
Tian, who was to be produced before an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Thursday was kept in the prison for safety reasons. In the absence of the engineer, the court asked the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to prepare a report on the incident.
A couple of days back, the engineer denied all charges against him. He told the court that he cannot even fathom offending the sentiments of Pakistanis and Muslims, therefore, all charges against him are complete lies.
A bloodthirsty mob chanting to get its hands on a blasphemy victim in Kohistan.
A Chinese engineer at Dassu Dam was accused of blasphemy by the local laborers. Police arrested the man to ensure his safety.
Blasphemy laws are inflicted on us like a curse.pic.twitter.com/JRN4pXlvkd
— Mona Farooq Ahmad (@MonaChaudhryy) April 17, 2023
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a press conference earlier this week that the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan is verifying the information about the arrested national. On earlier occasions, China and its State-owned media have come down heavily on Islamabad for not providing adequate security to its people working on infrastructure projects.
“The Chinese government always asks Chinese nationals overseas to abide by laws and regulations of the host countries and respect local customs and traditions. If the incident involves Chinese nationals, our Embassy will provide consular protection and assistance within the purview of its duty”, Wenbin said.
The Chinese engineer got into an argument with two truck drivers at the Dasu hydro-power plant project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this Sunday over slow execution of work due to Ramadan. The Pakistani truck drivers alleged that the Chinese engineer insulted Allah and Prophet Mohammed, after which a crowd gathered and pelted stones at the Chinese camp. Security forces had to fire in the air to disperse the agitated crowd.
Reports say that the workers mobilised villagers and came back on Monday to attack the Chinese camp. Besides throwing stones, the crowd also shouted slogans for beheading Mr Tian. Realising the seriousness of the situation, the army air-lifted the engineer to Abbottabad and put him behind bars for his safety.
The incensed villagers and clerics organised a jirga—a village council, and also blocked the Karakoram highway – the only road link that connects Pakistan to China. Many clerics from the region have decided to participate in the legal proceedings on behalf of the angry villagers.
The Chinese have been attacked earlier also when a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into a coach carrying Chinese engineers to the Dasu hydro-power project. Eight Chinese engineers were killed in the attack. An angry Beijing extracted millions of dollars from a financially-deprived Islamabad as compensation for the families of the dead engineers. Chinese power companies stopped work at the dam site in a bid to arm-twist Pakistan till it paid the blood money.
Earlier this week, the chairman of the China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) Yu Bo said that the biggest difficulties in making the Gwadar Port functional was the issue of security. Pakistan has witnessed an unending series of attacks across the length and breadth of the country by the Pakistani Taliban, also known as the TTP, which has raised concerns among many in the country.
China has been struggling with a politically unstable and economically weak Pakistan that is unable to either provide safety for its citizens or pump in its share of finances into the joint China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
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