Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said on Saturday that 15 Chinese authorities have been added to the continuing inquiry into the Dasu bus tragedy, which claimed the lives of 13 individuals, including nine Chinese citizens.
Sheikh Rashid told a news briefing in Islamabad that a 15-member team of Chinese investigators arrived yesterday and spoke with security agency officials at the incident site.
“The investigation of the event is at its final stages and the highest institutions of Pakistan are investigating it. Fifteen individuals from China have been included [in the investigation] as well,” the interior minister said.
Sheikh Rashid said that the Chinese government had been notified of the situation and was being kept up to date when new information became available.
“We completely reassure the Chinese government that these culprits, hidden hands and enemies of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) and China-Pakistan friendship will never be forgiven at any cost.”
Thirteen people were killed and 28 others were wounded when a coach carrying them to an under-construction tunnel site of the 4,300-megawatt Dasu hydropower project fell into a ravine in the Upper Kohistan area after an explosion on Wednesday. The victims included nine Chinese nationals, two Frontier Constabulary personnel, and two locals.
Although the event was originally described as an accident by the Foreign Office, the government subsequently said that traces of explosives had been discovered, with Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry stating that “terrorism could not be ruled out.”
Later, China stated that it will send a team to Pakistan to deal with the incident’s consequences. At a press conference in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated, “Today China will send a cross-departmental joint working group to Pakistan to help with relevant work,”
The interior minister said that the two countries shared an “all-weather friendship” that could not be affected by such events.
Rashid said that a similar attempt to sway Pakistan’s relationship with China had failed in Quetta, citing an explosion at the Serena Hotel during a visit by the Chinese envoy.
“They were successful in their scheme in Dasu but this success is temporary because our relations with China are higher than the Himalayas.”
The interior minister stated the individuals engaged in the event will be brought to justice and exposed, and that arrests had already been made in Lahore.
He went on to say that the prime minister had ordered Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit China and that the Ministry of Interior had urged security services to beef up protection for Chinese employees in Pakistan as a result of the event.
The Dasu incident, according to Rashid, was organized days before a CPEC Joint Coordination Committee meeting, which was initially scheduled for Friday (July 16). In the aftermath of the event, the meeting was postponed.