Chinese nationals teaching Mandarin language in Pakistan have left for China after being called by Beijing weeks after a suicide attack in Karachi killed three teachers.
On April 26, a suicide bomber blew herself near the China-built Confucius Institute inside the University of Karachi. Three Chinese nationals, including the institute's head and two teachers, were killed. The bombing was claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army-linked Majeed Brigade.
The attack has since been seen as the latest against Chinese nationals and the country's presence in Pakistan. Confucius Institutes are Chinese government-funded institutes across the world that teach the Chinese language and culture.
An official at the University of Karachi said that the Chinese teachers who were teaching at the Confucius Institute on the campus left for China on Sunday.
He said, “There were other Chinese teachers working at different campuses in the country and they left yesterday.”
Director of the Confucius Institute at the Karachi University, Dr Nasir Uddin, said that the departure of the Chinese teachers was a big setback for the students learning Mandarin.
He said, “We have around 500 students enrolled at the institute and we are now considering having online classes for them so that their term is completed.”
He added that the teachers at the different Confucius Institutes in the country have been called back by the Chinese government.
The Chinese government in the past reacted strongly to attacks on its nationals working in Pakistan. After the Karachi bombing, China asked Pakistan to scale-up security for its nationals working in the country and demanded a thorough investigation and punishment to the perpetrators.
Following this, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered a complete review of security arrangements for Chineses nationals, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and other Pakistan-China projects in the country, as per a report.
The BLA opposes Chinese investment in Pakistan, especially in the restive Balochistan, saying local people do not benefit.
Balochistan, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, is home to a long-running violent insurgency. Baloch insurgent groups have previously carried out several attacks targeting the $60-billion CPEC projects.
This was not the first time Chinese nationals have been the target of terror attacks in Karachi, which is Pakistan's biggest city and economic hub.
In July last year, masked armed men on a motorcycle opened fire on a vehicle carrying two Chinese nationals in Karachi in which one of them was critically wounded. In the same month, nearly a dozen Chinese engineers were killed when a bus carrying construction workers was "attacked" in northwest Pakistan.
In November 2018, Baloch militants had attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi but failed to break through the security barrier with three of them killed on the spot.
Thousands of Chinese personnel are working in Pakistan on a host of projects being carried out under the aegis of the CPEC.
(With PTI inputs)