Pakistan’s information minister reverses government position on deadly crash, which Foreign Minister Qureshi had described as an ‘accident’
Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Thursday said that initial investigations into the Dasu bus crash in Kohistan that resulted in the deaths of 13 people had confirmed traces of explosives, adding terrorism cannot be ruled out in the incident.
“Initial investigations into the Dasu incident have now confirmed traces of explosives. Terrorism cannot be ruled out,” he said in a posting on Twitter. “P.M. [Imran Khan] is personally supervising all developments in this regard [and] government is in close coordination with Chinese embassy. We are committed to fight menace of terrorism together,” he added.
On Wednesday, 13 people—including nine Chinese nationals—died after a passenger bus transporting them to the under-construction Dasu hydropower project crashed into a ravine in Kohistan. Initial reports had suggested the crash was preceded by an explosion, but Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told his Chinese counterpart that it was an “accident.”
According to a statement issued by China’s foreign ministry, Qureshi had met Wang Yi in Dushanbe and informed him that a “preliminary” probe had found that the crash was not caused by any act of terrorism. The two leaders had been attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Council of Foreign Ministers meeting.
Yi, read the statement, had called for a probe into the incident, stressing that China was shocked at the “serious Chinese casualties.” It said that he had stressed that Pakistan must prevent similar incidents from happening again, adding that if it were a terrorist attack, the “criminals must be immediately arrested and severely punished.”
In response, according to the statement, Qureshi had reaffirmed that China was Pakistan’s “most important friend and most reliable partner, and China’s loss is Pakistan’s loss.” He had also assured Yi that no effort would be spared in investigating the incident and ensuring the best treatment for the wounded.
In addition to the nine Chinese nationals, the Dasu bus crash caused the deaths of two Frontier Constabulary personnel and two civilians, as well as injuring 28 other passengers. Immediately after news of the crash became public, conflicting reports were provided over the nature of the “accident.”
The Foreign Office, in a statement, claimed it was caused by a “leakage of gas” that had resulted in a mechanical failure. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, described it as a “bombing,” and advised the Chinese living in Pakistan to take strict precautions and stop going out unless absolutely necessary.