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regular-article-logo Friday, 31 May 2024

Chinese firm shuts shop in Pakistan, 2,000 workers laid off due to 'security reasons'

This comes after after five Chinese nationals were killed in a suicide attack at a hydropower project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province

PTI Islamabad Published 29.03.24, 07:01 AM
Representational image

Representational image File image

Two days after five Chinese nationals were killed in a suicide attack at a hydropower project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan, a Chinese company has suspended civil works and laid off hundreds of workers at another hydropower project in the same restive province, according to media reports on Thursday.

At least five Chinese nationals, working on the Dasu hydropower project, were among the six persons killed on Tuesday when an explosives-packed vehicle rammed into their bus in Bisham district, in the second suicide attack on the personnel working on the China-backed hydropower project since 2021.

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No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

The Chinese company, Power Construction Corporation of China (PCCC), has suspended civil works at the Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project in the Swabi district of KP province and laid off over 2,000 workers after the killing of Chinese nationals in a suicide attack in Shangla district, the Dawn newspaper reported quoting government sources.

The suspension of work on the 1,530 megawatts Tarbela extension project (T5) was notified by the manager (administration) of the PCCC. The notification also revealed that the project’s site workers and office staff members had been laid off until further orders because of security reasons, the report said.

It also lays off 2,000 workers for security reasons, it added.

However, the manager said only the staff members called by the heads of their respective sections would come to work.

General secretary of the Awami Labour Union at the Tarbela project Aslam Adil confirmed the development but insisted that under labour laws, the workers laid off had not lost their jobs and were entitled to receive half of their salaries until they resumed duties. “Authorities are going to enhance the security of project employees on their demand,” he said.

The union leader said the suspension of work won’t cause a “long delay” in T-5’s completion, which is slated for May 2026 with the assistance of the World Bank ($390 million) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ($300 million).

The Chinese were working on the Dasu hydropower project, which is about 300 km to the north of Islamabad. The 4,320 MW project is being constructed by China Gezhouba with funding from the World Bank.

The first such attack involving Chinese nationals was carried out on July 14, 2021, a few kilometres from Dasu dam’s site in Kohistan, leaving nine Chinese engineers and four Pakistani workers dead while over 23 were injured.

On Wednesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered a thorough joint investigation into the deadly terrorist attack on Chinese nationals after Beijing pressed Islamabad to speed up the hunt for the guilty and take effective steps to protect Chinese personnel.

Thousands of Chinese citizens are working in Pakistan on several projects as part of the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Formal probe

The Pakistan government on Thursday announced a formal probe into the allegation by six judges of the Islamabad High Court about the country’s
intelligence agencies meddling in the affairs of the judiciary.

The development came following a crucial meeting by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Supreme Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

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