China has pledged to “take all necessary measures” to liberate two Chinese nationals abducted in Pakistan, an ally of the communist nation considered by various countries a safe haven for Islamic terrorists, reports the state-controlled Xinhua news agency.
Even China itself has expressed concern about Pakistan’s “complicated relationship” with jihadists, according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
“The Chinese government has maintained close communication with Pakistan since the abduction took place and urged Pakistan to take all necessary measures to secure the early release of the hostages,” Lu Kang, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters on Thursday.
Kang reportedly indicated that China has urged “Pakistan to take further steps to ensure the safety and security of Chinese nationals and institutions in Pakistan.”
“The Chinese government will work with the Pakistani side to spare no efforts to rescue the two nationals at an early date,” added the spokesman.
Various news reports say gunmen kidnapped the couple who were teaching Chinese in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, located in the country’s restive Balochistan Province.
The abduction comes amid the ongoing $55 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, a component of Beijing’s modern-day “Silk Road,” officially known as the “One Belt, One Road (OBOR).”
In Pakistan’s Balochistan province, which borders war-ravaged Afghanistan, suspected fighters from a designated ethno-nationalist terrorist group have already killed at least thirteen Pakistanis working on projects affiliated with CPEC.
The Chinese-funded corridor is expected to run through Balochistan, the largest province of the Muslim-majority nation, with 44 percent of the Pakistan’s land.
Authorities believe the outlawed Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist group, is behind the recent deadly attacks on the CPEC workers.
Pakistan considers the terrorist group to be an Indian proxy that receives military aid through New Delhi envoys in neighboring Afghanistan.
Referring to the latest abduction incident in Balochistan, Xinhua reports, “the kidnappers, disguised as police, initially took away three Chinese, two women and a man, but a passerby named Muhammad Zahir helped one of the women escape.”
The BLA has reportedly attacked Chinese foreign workers in the past.
Citing the state-controlled Chinese broadcaster CCTV, the South China Morning Post reports, “Two Chinese teachers were kidnapped on Wednesday in a remote region of Pakistan, a dangerous but important part of Beijing’s new Silk Road.”
“No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but in the past Islamist militant factions have kidnapped foreigners inside Pakistan for a ransom or to get publicity for their cause,” adds the news outlet.
In its 2016 annual report to Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission acknowledged that China is wary about Islamic terrorism within the borders of its ally Pakistan.
China and Pakistan consider India to be their regional rival. Islamabad-controlled Kashmir borders China, but mainland Pakistan does not.