Days after an alleged attack on a bus carrying Chinese engineers in Pakistan, photographs have emerged showing Chinese workers armed to defend themselves at project sites. Photographs show Chinese workers armed with AK-47 rifles while carrying out maintenance tasks at various CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) projects in Pakistan.
In an incident, which was initially reported as a blast before Pakistan attributed it to a technical failure in the engine of the bus carrying Chinese engineers, 13 people had lost their lives on July 14.
Some reports said the incident was a terror attack and the Chinese were the target. Later, China sent its own team of investigators to probe the bus blast, in a clear signal that it did not believe Pakistan’s version of the incident.
The incident took place as the bus was transporting Chinese engineers to the Dasu dam site in Upper Kohistan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Nine of those killed were engineers from China.
China has invested massive sums of money into creating, training and equipping two Special Security Divisions (SSDs), the 34 and 44 Light Infantry Divisions with 15,000 troops each. While the 34 Light Division was created in September 2016, the 44 Light Division was created in 2020.
The Pakistan Army had asked for and received money for equipping these divisions. However, they have failed to carry out their duties and have been at the receiving end of insurgent attacks.
One such attack was carried out in Ormara on October 15, 2020, when 14 Pakistani security personnel were dragged out of a bus and killed by Baloch militants.
The new photos show Chinese workers and engineers in Pakistan being protected 24×7 by armed guards. This has also created a number of near-riot situations wherein fistfights have turned ugly.
In the recent past, Pakistan has faced troubles arising out of alleged Chinese involvement in its internal affairs. Officers of SSD have earlier been implicated in various embezzlement schemes of Chinese money.
The latest blast is not the first attack against the Chinese whose presence along the projects of the CPEC are said to have unsettled locals in many areas of Pakistan.
The current strife in Afghanistan has apparently aggravated the situation in Pakistan where terror groups such as the Islamic State and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are rampaging against Pakistani security personnel.
The photographs showing Chinese engineers and workers with AK-47 rifles slung over their shoulders raise several questions about the growing distrust between the two countries.