A Chinese worker after Baloch freedom fighters attacked their Bus in Dasu region

Peshawar: Amid security threats from banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Chinese engineers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were moved to Islamabad in July 22, reported Dawn.

Work on two hydropower projects in KP, Gorkin Matiltan area of Swat district and the other (11.8 megawatts) in Korora area of Shangla district was suspended for several months due to the resurgence of TTP in Malakand division last summer, official documents revealed.

A document revealed that those engineers had been "sitting idle" in Islamabad since July 5, 2022, reported Dawn.

The documents available with Dawn show that work on the Gorkin Matiltan project came to a grinding halt after Swat's district police officer ordered the "demobilizing" of the Chinese engineers working on it on July 5, 2022, due to the deteriorating security situation in the district.

Another document disclosed that work on the Karora project had been suspended since May 20 last year, barely a month before the project deadline, on account of security threats to the Chinese engineers, reported Dawn.

"The Chinese [engineers] working on [Karora] project have been demobilized more than seven times since September 2021 on [the] security agencies' instructions," it said.

Meanwhile, the provincial government expressed concerns about "security threats" to the Chinese workers of the local hydropower projects and urged security agencies to take corrective steps, reported Dawn.

The official statement read that the security situation and a delay in project activities could cause heavy damage to the province.

A meeting, under the chairmanship of Energy and Power Secretary Nisar Ahmad Khan, took place on Monday wherein the security agencies were directed that an integrated strategy would be adopted for the timely completion of hydropower projects worth billions of rupees, reported The Nation.

The participants of the meeting discussed various options to improve the security arrangements. Bullet-proof vehicles for foreign engineers would be arranged and fool-proof security arrangements ensured, reported The Nation.

At the end of the meeting, the secretary of energy said that the provincial government should adopt a well-planned security strategy including establishing close contacts with the relevant district administration, police and other agencies so that work on the energy projects may not suffer.

In July 2021, at least 12 people, including nine Chinese engineers working on the Dasu dam project in Upper Kohistan district, were killed in the suicide bombing of a bus carrying them.

Meanwhile, Gwadar Rights Movement leader, Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman, issued a warning to Chinese nationals to leave the Gwadar port area, reported The Maritime Executive.

Maulana issued a threat to the Chinese nationals living in Gwadar, according to reports, warning that if the government "ignores" their peaceful protests, the participants have a right "to pick up and use weapons to protect our rights."

Media reports suggest that there are fewer than 500 Chinese in Gwadar, all based in the Gwadar Port compound, reported Asian Lite International.

Protests on the expansion of Pakistan's Gwadar Port, a key asset for China's BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) in Asia, continue to escalate, potentially jeopardizing economic ties between China and Pakistan, reported The Maritime Executive.

Last week, the events took a new twist after a protest leader warned Chinese nationals to leave Gwadar by the end of the week.

Chinese citizens are facing increasing threats from different terrorist groups in Pakistan, with a rise in recent incidents of targeted attacks on China nationals. The growing anti-China sentiment in Gwadar may adversely impact the progress of key CPEC projects.

Moreover, Pakistan witnessed a spike in terror incidents, especially in KP and Balochistan, after the TTP ended a ceasefire with Islamabad.

The TTP has deep historical ties with the Afghan Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP). It is a by-product of Al-Qaeda's jihadi politics in Afghanistan and Pakistan after 9/11.