Islamabad: The Pakistan government will compensate the 36 Chinese nationals working on a major hydropower project who either died or were injured in a terrorist attack in the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province last year, a move aimed at placating its all-weather ally, a media report said on Wednesday.

On July 13 last year, 10 Chinese nationals, mostly engineers, were killed and 26 others were seriously injured after a suicide attack on a bus that was ferrying them to the work site of the Dasu Hydropower Project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), headed by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, will decide on the quantum of compensation to be paid to these Chinese victims, with figures starting at USD 4.6 million and spanning up to USD 20.3 million, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.

The Dasu Hydropower Project is funded by the World Bank and does not fall under the ambit of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The compensation payment is aimed at removing a major irritant in bilateral relations, the report said.

Cash-strapped Pakistan has decided to make the payment despite there was no legal or contractual obligation on the government, it said.

China reportedly retaliated and cancelled a scheduled meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee of the CPEC, the report said.

Following the terror attack, the Chinese contractors had also stopped work on the project and demanded a compensation to the tune of USD 37 million, which was a whopping 500 per cent more than what the Chinese government would have provided if the attack had occurred in China, the report said.

The Pakistan government had initially tried to downplay the terror attack, by terming the incident as gas leakage.

But later Islamabad acknowledged that it was a terrorist attack. China had also sent a group of experts to probe the attack.

Incidentally, four Pakistani nationals were also killed in the attack, but the Imran Khan government has not provided details whether they would be eligible for compensation, the report said.

The move to compensate Chinese nationals comes barely two days after the ruling Pakistan-i-Tehreek Insaf (PTI) government had transferred funds and the first salary to the widow of the Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara, who was brutally lynched to death by an irate mob in December last year in Sialkot over allegations of blasphemy, Geo TV reported.

Funds of USD 100000 and the first salary of USD 1667 committed by Rajco Industries for the next 10 years announced by Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI have been transferred to the account of the widow of the deceased Sri Lankan manager Mr Priyantha Kumara in Sri Lanka, the PTI had said in a tweet.

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