Succumbing to China’s pressure, Pakistan on Saturday approved a USD 11.6 million compensation package for Chinese victims of the Dasu Hydropower Project. In July 2021, 13 people, including 9 Chinese engineers, along with over two dozen other people, sustained injuries when a bus carrying the team fell into a ravine upon being hit by an explosive-laden car. Beijing had shut down all operations in the region demanding a USD 38 million compensation from cash-strapped Pakistan for the dead engineers.
According to Pakistan’s Samaa TV, the decision to approve the USD 11.6 million packages for those injured or dead in the blast was taken in the ECC meeting under Pakistan Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin. The amount demanded from Pakistan is 6 times the amount that China would have paid provided the blast had taken place on its territory, Hongkong Post reported.
China’s successful arm-twisting is a reflection of the debts and favours both monetary and otherwise that it has lent to Pakistan over the years. Imran Khan had previously requested Beijing to forgive debt liabilities owed to China-funded energy projects established under the USD 60 billion CPEC project. The PM has repeatedly assured that the timely completion of the project is a top priority for the Pakistan government. In 2020-21, Pakistan had to pay over Rs 26 billion in interest cost to China to repay maturing debt. Moreover, it is facing scores of “hidden debts” totalling $385 billion due to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project.
How did Dasu Dam attack unfold
On July 14, a shuttle bus carrying working staff on the Dasu Hydropower Project fell into a ravine in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region following an explosion. Following the blast, Pakistan blamed India for the incident saying that the attack by Islamist terrorists was ‘backed by Indian and Afghan security agencies’. India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) downright repudiated the allegation terming it as an attempt to “malign India” and dubbing Pakistan as a “safe haven for terrorists”.
To probe the matter, China sent their own team of investigators to Pakistan. Since the Dasu hydropower project is a part of China’s Economic Corridor, the CPC suspected the role of the Pakistani Taliban or Balochistan terror outfits behind the attack.
(With agency inputs)