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Pact with Pakistan to Protect Chinese
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Pakistan and China have signed an agreement to protect Chinese nationals from extremists' attacks in Pakistan.

The agreement acquires special significance because some Chinese nationals were recently targeted by extremist organizations.

A joint task force of senior Pakistani Interior and Foreign Ministry officials and Chinese diplomats in Pakistan will be set up to ensure greater security for Chinese nationals.

The task force will meet once a month to discuss the security situation and to review the progress of the investigation into recent attacks.

Pakistani Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah and Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Luo Zhaohui signed the agreement on behalf of their respective countries on Monday.

"The agreement will give us leverage for a quick response to any security issue that poses a threat to the lives of Chinese nationals," a local press report quoted the Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao as saying.

The two sides have been able to resolve most of the cases. The Pakistani government will ensure that such an incident doesn't recur, Sherpao said.

"Attacks against Chinese nationals are increasing because they are among the largest foreign investors and constructors in Pakistan. We enjoy friendly relations with that country," said Fu Xiaoqiang, a researcher with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

Extremists and separatist forces opposed to the country's economic policies carry out indirect attacks against the Pakistani government, he said.

The new agreement will strengthen bilateral communication, help reduce casualties and even prevent some attacks through early warnings, Fu said.

Three Chinese nationals were killed in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar on July 8. Eleven days later, a suicide bomber attacked a group of Chinese engineers in Baluchistan, a region in southwestern Pakistan.

The attack killed about 30 people, including policemen. The Chinese nationals escaped unhurt.

In June, some radical Islamic students abducted several Chinese women, but released later them.

China has urged Pakistan to strengthen security measures to protect the approximately 3,000 Chinese living and working in Pakistan.

(Agencies via China Daily August 8, 2007)

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