Precious Bond: Chinese, Pakistanis continue to strengthen friendship with blood

By Muhammad Sohail Bhatti

The Killing of five Chinese nationals and a Pakistani in a suicide bomb blast at the convoy of the Dasu Hydro Power Project in the Besham area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is one of the number of sacrifices both sides have been offering for decades with a common goal to strengthen the friendship and brotherhood bond between the two nations.

The sacrifices by both sides started in the 1970s when the two nations started to build a road named Karakoram Highway (KKH) in the tough mountainous regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The main aims behind the building of the Karakoram Highway include giving a new life of connectivity to the mountainous area of Pakistan as well as establishing a linkage between the people of the two brotherly countries.

In total, over 800 Pakistani and over 200 Chinese nationals laid down their lives during the KKH construction due to natural calamities and accidents. The record shows that 25 Chinese nationals sacrificed their lives in one incident of a landslide triggered by an explosion during the construction of KKH.

A big graveyard of Chinese nationals in Gilgit-Baltistan is a living memory of how Chinese brother sacrificed their lives for the development of Pakistan and also to establish a strong bond between the people of the two sides. Chinese friends pioneered the foundation of China-Pakistan friendship by giving their flesh and blood.

Sacrifices rendered by both sides’ nations have cemented the Sino-Pakistan friendship to a unique level of iron-clad bond which has been benefiting millions of Pakistanis and Chinese, especially under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The March 26 attack is not the first attack of its kind, we have seen several terrorist attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan but such heinous acts could never scare brave Chinese citizens.

The writer had a chance to visit the graveyard in GB to pay tribute to Chinese friends who gave their sweat and blood to the China-Pakistan friendship. The graveyard was full of young people who were in their early 20s but they volunteered themselves for an exemplary friendship and finally ended up in eternal rest place besides the KKH.

From 2004 to 2007, there were at least four terrorist attacks on Chinese nationals working at different projects, including Gwadar Port. These attacks not only killed Chinese engineers but at the same time raised questions over the safety of foreigners in Pakistan.

In April 2022, a female suicide bomber attacked a wagon of Chinese teachers at Karachi University and killed four including three Chinese nationals.

Earlier in July 2021, a suicide bomb attack at the convoy of the Dasu Hydro Power Project left 13 people dead, including nine Chinese. The March 26 attack is also at the convoy of the same hydropower project which has not only raised serious questions over the security in the country but has also given a serious blow to Chinese nationals’ confidence in Pakistan.

Each time a terrorist attack on Chinese nationals in Pakistan during the last 15 years, I talked to several Chinese nationals, but I could not find any kind of fear but concern which is everybody’s basic right.

If we look back at 2012-13, we had no proper road connectivity between the south and north regions of the country, our major cities including Islamabad were suffering 12 hours of load-shedding and small cities and villages up to 20 hours. In 2013, CPEC was launched and its projects ended acute load-shedding, gave us new road connectivity, provided hundreds of thousands of jobs, established a new port in Gwadar, and launched industrial zones.

When nobody was ready to invest a single rupee in terrorism hit Pakistan, these were Chinese friends who came forward invested and provided us with technical hands and offered cooperation from Agriculture to the building of JF-17 Thunder fighter jets.

Enemies of Pakistan do not want to see it progress and they are hitting the Chinese who are the only helping hand to Pakistan after Allah.

These attacks not only endanger Chinese lives but also cast a shadow over CPEC’s success. They raise concerns about Pakistan’s ability to ensure security for Chinese investments and personnel. The situation after the March 26 attack demands that the two countries should have stronger cooperation and intelligence sharing to address the threats.

Pakistan has taken steps to improve security for Chinese nationals, deploying additional troops and establishing special security forces. However, the vastness of the country and the evolving tactics of militant groups make it difficult to eliminate the threat.

Ensuring the safety of Chinese nationals in Pakistan is crucial for the success of CPEC, non-CPEC projects and the broader China-Pakistan relationship.

The loss of precious lives has pinned a deep pain in the hearts of Chinese people, while on the other side, the whole Pakistani nation is also sad and full of gloom over the loss of precious lives of brothers from China who were working day and night to produce cheap electricity to keep Pakistani people home bright and factories running.

I firmly believe that the legacy of courage and sacrifice will be carried forward by future generations of the two countries and this strong relationship, which has the blood of hundreds of great heroes in its roots, will flourish to get stronger.

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