Chinese workers are increasingly feeling insecure in Pakistan and they think that the Pakistani security systems are not able to protect them, according to persons familiar with the issue. Many Chinese workers have returned after the Karachi University attack last month that killed three Chinese nationals, according to one of the persons quoted above.
The Karachi University attack is the third time this year that the Chinese citizens in Pakistan were attacked. A Chinese government source admitted that the terrorist attacks have made an impact on the Chinese citizens living in Pakistan. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lijian Zhao, in recent a press conference in Beijing, said “The plot of terrorist forces to undermine the two countries’ mutual trust and cooperation will not succeed. The Chinese side would work with Pakistan to conduct a thorough investigation, reveal the truth, bring the perpetrators to justice, and explain to the people of both countries.”
Threat to foreign nationals could not only deter Chinese investors but also other foreign investors proving to be a test for the Shehbaz Sharif government already in the midst of a desperate battle to boost the economy.
Chinese workers and Chinese funds are key pillars of various projects in Pakistan including China Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC. However,
projects are running behind schedule.
The $60 billion
is running behind schedule with only three out of its 15 projects completed so far. Pakistan has completed only three CPEC projects in Gwadar worth $300 million, according to a person familiar with the project.
The completed projects are the $4 million Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan, the physical infrastructure of Gwadar Port, construction of Free Zone Phase-1 costing $300 million and the Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute built from a $10-million Chinese grant.
Last month, Pakistan Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal passed orders to begin the process of abolition of the CPEC Authority saying it was a “redundant organisation” that wasted resources and thwarted speedy implementation of the regional connectivity programme.
The erstwhile Imran Khan government made desperate attempts to address Beijing’s concerns over the CPEC, the crown jewel of the Belt & Road Initiative. Pakistan had agreed to include the much-delayed Gwadar power plant on its priority list, according to people familiar with the project. The step will help supply electricity to the Gwadar port under CPEC. Gwadar faces 12-16 hours power outages daily, resulting in energy imports from Iran.