- Foreign minister shares details of Dasu attack investigation, says the car used in the attack was smuggled into Pakistan from Afghanistan
- Reveals that the attack’s planning and execution were carried out by Afghanistan and India’s intelligence agencies
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi revealed on Thursday that the assailants of the Dasu attack wanted to target the Diamer Basha Dam first, but changed their plan after failing in their original attempt.
“Their first intention was to attack the site of the Diamer Basha Dam, but when they didn’t succeed there, they decided to attack the Dasu project,” the foreign minister said, while addressing a press conference aimed at sharing details of the Dasu attack investigation.
He also confirmed that the car used in the attack was “smuggled into Pakistan” from Afghanistan.
Qureshi added that the investigation carried out by Pakistan reveals that Afghanistan’s soil was used for the attack, adding that the incident was the result of hostile intelligence agencies' “nexus”.
“The attack’s planning and execution were carried out by Afghanistan and India’s intelligence agencies,” he said.
Last month, nine Chinese nationals and three Pakistanis lost their lives when their bus plunged into a ravine after an explosion near the Dasu hydropower plant in the Upper Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).
For several years, Chinese engineers and Pakistani construction workers have been working on hydroelectric projects as part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative in KPK, where the blast took place.
The Dasu hydroelectric project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $65-billion investment plan that aims to link western China to the southern Pakistani port of Gwadar.
Initially, Pakistan's foreign ministry blamed a mechanical failure for a "leakage of gas that caused a blast" while China's foreign ministry decried the incident as a bomb attack that caused injuries and death to its nationals.
Expressing shock at the development, China had asked Pakistan to thoroughly investigate the blast and protect the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects.
Pakistan later said that terrorism cannot be ruled out, adding that the "initial investigation confirmed traces of explosives."
Explaining Pakistan’s effort to engage the Chinese in investigations, Qureshi said that we have tried to keep friends in Beijing informed at all stages.
“When they [Chinese] wished that they wanted to come and visit the incident site, we welcomed them and made all appropriate arrangements.”
Explaining the basis of the investigation's findings, Qureshi said that we have reached these conclusions after reviewing around 36 CCTV cameras installed on the 1,400km-long route that was used by attackers.
“All cameras and the entire route was examined to reach the conclusions,” he added.
“An explosive laden car was used to carry out the attack,” he said.
“The vehicle was also identified after tracking its movements. We have the details of the car used in the incident,” he said.
It was not an easy case to resolve, he told reporters, adding that Pakistan's institutions carried out the inquiry successfully and professionally.
Explaining the scope of the investigations, the foreign minister said that more than 1,000 people working at the Dasu project were also involved in the inquiry.
“We believe some elements want to sabotage China’s investments in Pakistan to undermine both countries' economic cooperation and the bilateral relationship,” he said in reply to a question.
"The nexus cannot bear China and Pakistan's growing cooperation and increasing Chinese investment in the country."
Giving an insight into his recent meetings with Chinese officials, Qureshi said that after the Dasu incident, China and Pakistan made a renewed commitment to defeat terrorism.
The foreign minister said that China seems satisfied with the investigation into the Dasu attack. “They [Chinese] believe we have done it transparently,” he said.
Both countries reaffirmed that such attacks will not dent their resolve. “Our ties will grow stronger after the incident,” he added.
During Qureshi’s recent visit to China, both countries reaffirmed their commitment to continue to firmly advance the construction of the CPEC and ensure timely completion of under-construction projects.