A day after a deadly bus tragedy involving Chinese engineers, China on Thursday asked Pakistan to "lose no time" in conducting a thorough investigation in the tragic incident.
At least 13 people – nine Chinese nationals and four Pakistanis – were killed and more than two dozen others wounded on Wednesday when a bus they were travelling in plunged into a deep ravine after an explosion on board.
The bus was ferrying the Chinese and Pakistani workers to an under-construction tunnel site of the Dasu hydropower project.
"We have asked the Pakistani side to lose no time in conducting a thorough investigation, properly transfer and treat the wounded, strengthen security measures, eliminate security risks, and ensure the safety and security of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular media briefing.
China has asked Pakistan to lose no time in conducting a thorough investigation into the incident that caused heavy Chinese casualties to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions&projects. A joint working group will set out today to help with relevant work. pic.twitter.com/WAy9Cn35sW— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) July 15, 2021
He said that China will send out a cross-departmental joint working group to Pakistan to help with the relevant work. "The CPC (Chinese Communist Party) and the Chinese government attaches high importance to this. Party and state leaders made important instructions right away. We must spare no effort to rescue the injured, properly attend to follow-up matters for the injured and deceased, promptly find out what happened, conduct an in-depth assessment of security risks, and do our utmost to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel," he added.
Lijian said that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan has activated the emergency response mechanism, kept in close contact with the Pakistani side in both Beijing and Islamabad, and engaged fully in dealing with the emergency.
The spokesperson said that the Pakistani side has expressed sympathy and condolences in various channels and pledged to do everything possible to rescue the injured and handle follow-up matters to ensure the safety and security of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan.
Earlier today, Federal Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that initial investigations into the Dasu incident have now confirmed traces of explosives. "Terrorism cannot be ruled out,” he wrote on his verified Twitter handle.
“PM [Imran] is personally supervising all developments. The government is in close coordination with Chinese Embassy in this regard. We are committed to fight the menace of terrorism together,” he added.
Initial investigations into Dassu incident have now confirmed traces of explosives,Terrorism cannot be ruled out,PM is personally supervising all developments,in this regard Govt is in close coordination with Chinese embassy we are committed to fight menace of terrorism together— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) July 15, 2021
A day earlier, the foreign ministry sought to portray it as an accident. “This morning a bus carrying Chinese workers in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.
Interestingly, hours before Fawad’s tweet, the Chinese foreign ministry quoted Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as saying that the bus tragedy was an accident and not a terrorist attack.
“Preliminary investigation shows that it’s an accident and no background of terrorist attacks has been found,” Qureshi told Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
“China is Pakistan's most important friend and most reliable partner, and China's loss is Pakistan's loss,” he added according to a statement published on the official website of China’s foreign ministry
Qureshi also promised that Pakistan would “thoroughly investigate the truth of the incident, lose no time in sharing the progress of the investigation with China”.
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