Photo: via Pakistantoday

Pakistan Arrests Eleven, Including an Afghan, in Connection to Attack on Chinese Citizens      

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Pakistani authorities say they have arrested eleven people in connection with an attack on Chinese citizens in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in March.      

Rai Tahir, the coordinator of the National Counter Terrorism Authority, reported the news at a press conference on May 26 in Lahore, alongside Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi. According to the Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, the detainees include the attacker and his Pakistani accomplices. The attacker, identified as ‘Mutaqi,’ also known as ‘Taqi,’ is from Afghanistan.

Mr. Tahir named other detainees as Adil Shahbaz, Shafiq Quraishi, Zahid Quraishi, Nazeer Hussain, Faizullah, Fasihullah, Imran Swati, Sakhaullah, Abdullah, Abdul Rahman, and Kamal Khan. The detained individuals are in the custody of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Counter-Terrorism Department, and their cases will be presented to the court after the investigation is completed, the Pakistani authorities told journalists.

According to the Pakistani officials, the attack was planned by two individuals named ‘Khan Lala’ and ‘Qari Asadullah’ in Afghanistan and was approved by the leader of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, who Islamabad claims resided on the Afghan side of the Durand border. The suspected suicide bomber, trained in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, was one of four terrorists who entered Pakistan in November 2023.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi added that the attack was fully orchestrated in Afghanistan and carried out with the help of facilitators in Pakistan specifically aimed at Chinese personnel in Pakistan. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan planned the attack, Mr. Naqvi said, with significant financial backing from “enemy’s intelligence agencies.”

He did not identify which countries he considered as enemies. Previously, Pakistan claimed that Afghanistan was harboring Indian intelligence operatives to stoke violence in Pakistan. Since the Taliban’s return to power, Islamabad claims that the group, considered as one of Pakistan’s key proxy extremist groups, has provided sanctuary to the country’s main insurgent group, the TTP, a claim the regime in Kabul continuously rejects.

The Pakistani Interior Minister called for the arrest of Noor Mehsud, the leader of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, in addition to the three suspects of the attack, and Azmatullah, the commander of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in the Malakand region. “We seek good relations with Afghanistan, but it is important that these terrorists are arrested, tried, or handed over to us,” he stated.

Mr. Naqvi warned that if the Afghan Taliban do not cooperate, Pakistan will take unilateral action. Although he did not specify what those actions might be.

The vehicle carrying the Chinese engineers was attacked on March 26 in the Bisham area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing five Chinese citizens and their Pakistani driver.     

Previously, Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department stated that the vehicle used in the attack and the key perpetrator had entered from Afghanistan. The Taliban’s Ministry of Defense dismissed the Pakistani army’s claims, asserting that such attacks indicate Pakistan’s security weaknesses.