Safety of Chinese diplomats, citizens top priority: Pakistan Interior Minister

China Economic Net

Islamabad: Safety of the Chinese diplomats and citizens living in Pakistan is the top priority of the Pakistani government, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said.

Speaking to Gwadar Pro after a blast in Quetta in the parking of a luxury hotel where Chinese Ambassdor Nong Rong and his team were lodging, the minister said the Chinese envoy was not present in the hotel when the blast occurred.

“Four people have died and at least 13 people have been wounded in the blast. The Chinese Ambassador and four members of his delegation were lodged in the hotel but the Ambassador was out for a meeting at that time,” Ahmed said.

He said while a top-level investigation had been ordered, the government remains committed to safety and security of the Chinese people living in Pakistan. “The Chinese people and diplomats are completely safe in Pakistan. We will ensure their safety,” he said.

The blast took place in the car park of the Serena – a luxury hotel chain — in the city of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a key part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative – has given a new life to underdeveloped Balochistan province.

But in 2019 gunmen stormed a luxury hotel overlooking a flagship CPEC project – the deep-water seaport in Gwadar that gives China strategic access to the Arabian Sea – killing at least eight people. Baloch insurgents also recently targeted the Pakistan Stock Exchange, which is partly owned by Chinese companies. All the attacks were claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed warned there were threats that terrorist activities could be carried out in Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

He condemned the blast and expressed deep regret over the loss of precious lives. The Minister has sought a report of the incident from Chief Secretary Balochistan.

He said that the enemies of the country do not want a peaceful and developing Pakistan and want to create hurdles in the way of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He said the blast was a matter of grave concern, adding that the atmosphere of terror will be eradicated.

Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani said the blast was unfortunate, adding they were investigating the incident and action would be taken against terrorists involved in the blast.

He clarified that the blast did not take place inside the hotel but in the parking lot, which is far away from the main hotel building.

He said that at least 13 people were injured in the blast. “VIPs (very Important Persons) and foreign delegates do come to the hotel but they stay inside while only the hotel management and security personnel stay in the parking lot,” he maintained.

Police said Assistant Commissioner Jaffarabad Bilal Shabbir and Assistant Commissioner Revenue Quetta Aijaz Ahmed were also injured in the incident.

Initial investigation revealed the explosion was caused when explosive material, fitted inside a car was detonated, said a police statement.

Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal has condemned the blast and summoned a report from authorities concerned.

Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry also condemned the blast and said that the federal government was in close touch with the Balochistan government and an investigation related to the blast was underway.