Pakistani authorities claim to unearth hidden hand behind attack on Chinese Engineers
by Kaswar Klasra
ISLAMABAD, July 23 (Gwadar Pro) - Authorities in Pakistan claim they have identified the group and its handlers which attacked Chinese engineers last week in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. However, the finding of probe will be made public at a suitable time.
Investigators have got clues that the attack on Chinese engineers was pre-planned and the sample of explosive used in attack have been matched to the extract of explosive material which was used in the suicide attack carried out on April 21, 2021 in Quetta.
On Quetta blast, sources said, the prime target was Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan and the team of Chinese Businessmen who came to visit Gwadar & Quetta to observe investment opportunities in CPEC. Luckily, the Chinese delegation had left the hotel minutes before the suicide attempt.
Investigators have not made this information public as teams of both China and Pakistan are working jointly to dig deep to get more details.
A senior police officer who was the first one to visit the injured at hospital quoted an injured person as saying he heard a blast first, then a few seconds later, the bus they were taking, fell into a ditch.
“What I remember is a blast which had shaken the window pane of the bus. Moments later, I observed our bus running on a bumpy but steep slope and finally overturned,” police officer quoting an injured engineer with minor injuries as saying.
It appears, the driver lost control after blast hit hard the bus. Interviews from the survivors revealed that the explosive material (IED blast) had almost thrown the bus away causing panic and stress in the cabin.
Sources from intelligence agencies have said they have got irrefutable evidence that the attack (IED blast) might be carried out by terrorist group Hizb-ul-Ahrar, a militant wing of Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a militant group that has a stronghold in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s tribal belt at the border with Afghanistan.
Jamat-ul-Ahrar, sources said, has joined hands with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in September 2020 and carried out hostile activities against Pakistan’s armed forces since then.
Off the record conversation with senior official of Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior and information from various sources revealed that Hizb-ul-Ahrar had carried attack on Chinese officials on direction of TTP.
It is worth noting that TTP, a banned militant organization founded in 2007 in North Waziristan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, was flushed out following Pakistan’s military operations in northern areas. Its top leadership took refuge in Afghanistan and formed bases in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces in eastern Afghanistan. As Taliban gained power from the US’s withdrawal, TTP is now trying to establish its stronghold in Pakistan’s tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
Sources said that TTP had joined hands with Jamat-ul-Ahrar last year in September 2020 and had been unleashing attacks on Pakistan army. It is the first time the group has targeted Chinese officials. Sources said TTP provides funding, explosive material and arms. However, its allies like BLA & Jamat-ul-Ahrar provides logistic support, suicide attackers and militants.
TTP has been using the same modus operandi in Balochistan where it has joined hands with BLA and ISIS, said intelligence sources.
TTP had joined hands with the Liberation Army, an anti-Pakistan terrorist group, a few years ago. TTP and BLA have been waging war against CPEC in Balochistan province. TTP has been waging war on China’s interests in Pakistan and claimed responsibility for every attack it carried out across Pakistan.
Why is TTP attacking China’s interest in Pakistan?
Off the record conversation with officials privy to the development revealed that TTP’s main target is still Pakistan. Its prime motive is to destabilize Pakistan; that is why it is always trying to bring harm to Pakistan and its friends especially China.
TTP recognizes that China is arguably the closest ally of Pakistan. Given that China is making Pakistan strong economically and militarily and has invested billions of dollars in Pakistan to set up CPEC, TTP sees Beijing as a natural opponent. Therefore, it has taken China to the hit list. Also, since TTP joined hands with BLA in Balochistan, it was natural for TTP to support BLA in its activities against CPEC and China’s interests across Pakistan.
“TTP-BLA nexus is too dangerous for Pakistan and China. Both of them is using their expertise and resources to achieve targets across Pakistan. Kalbhushan Jadhav, an Indian spy who was arrested in counter intelligence operation on March 3, 2016 from Balochistan had revealed this long ago,” said source from Pakistan’s counter terrorism department.
Pakistan believes India has been fueling terrorism in Pakistan for a long time through TTP and other terrorist organizations for a long time.
India had all the time denied such allegations, even in the face of Pakistan’s claim of “irrefutable evidence” that TTP along with other groups based in Afghanistan have received some level of Indian support to mount attacks in Pakistan.
TTP attacks on China’s interests in Pakistan are seen by Pakistan as a proxy for India in its rivalry with both powers.
Sources in Intelligence agencies of Pakistan have said, they believe, TTP may step up attacks on Chinese interests in Pakistan in the near future. Hence the government of Pakistan has beefed up the security of Chinese working on different projects in Pakistan under CPEC.
“This may be a challenging task; such a threat would further compound the challenge to Pakistani security forces, even after gains made against TTP in tribal areas. The threat will remain as long as TTP is able to sustain sanctuaries across the border in Afghanistan,” said the sources.
However, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, speaking at a news conference in Islamabad, said that Pakistan would provide fool-proof security to Chinese people working on various projects in the country and directives had been issued to all law enforcement agencies in that regard.
“China is Pakistan’s closest friend and cowardly acts like the Dash Hydropower bus blast will not affect the two countries’ friendship,” Sheikh Rasheed told journalists at the press conference which came after a telephone call with Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi, with whom he discussed the progress of the investigation over a call which lasted more than half-an-hour, according to Rashid.