A Chinese engineering firm, Power Construction Corporation of China (PCCC), has reportedly suspended operations and laid off over 2,000 workers at the Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province following a deadly suicide bombing.

The decision was made after an attack on a bus carrying Chinese workers which resulted in the death of five Chinese nationals and a nearby Pakistani resident, the second serious security incident in the region involving people associated with a Chinese-backed project since 2021.

The bus attack occurred at the Dasu hydropower project, approximately 300 km north of Islamabad, which is being developed by the Chinese company China Gezhouba and backed by financing from the World Bank.

It’s striking that Chinese personnel were previously targeted at this location, with another suicide bombing in July 2021 resulting in multiple casualties among Chinese and Pakistani workers.

Notably, the PCCC was supervising the extension of the Tarbela Hydropower Project in the same province. According to government sources quoted by Dawn, the company ceased civil works due to rising security concerns following the recent attack.

However, despite the halt of operations, the impact on the project’s completion is expected to be minimal. The project, which is being financially supported by the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, is scheduled for completion by May 2026.

What’s more, workers impacted by the layoffs are entitled to 50 per cent of their salaries until they are recalled back to their duties, according to Pakistani employment laws.

In response to the tragedy, the Chinese government has issued strong condemnation of the suicide bombing and demanded a thorough investigation. Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif has ordered an in-depth joint inquiry to identify the culprits and ensure the security of Chinese workers in Pakistan.

The presence of Chinese personnel in Pakistan is linked with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-billion-dollar initiative focused on economic cooperation and enhanced connectivity between the two nations.

Published By:

Vadapalli Nithin Kumar

Published On:

Mar 28, 2024


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