• Thursday, July 25, 2024

Asia

Pakistan PM woos Chinese investors, assures security

Pakistan prime minister says his government will ensure fool-proof security to protect the lives of Chinese workers in Pakistan

Representational Image (iStock)

By: Shajil Kumar

PAKISTAN prime minister Shehbaz Sharif has assured to step up security for Chinese personnel working in his country in the wake of recent terrorist attacks targeting them.

Sharif (72) is on a five-day visit to China since June 4 and is seeking investments from its ‘all weather’ friend to shore up the cash-strapped Pakistan economy.

Addressing the Pakistan-China Business Forum in Shenzhen on Wednesday, Sharif assured all-out facilitation to Chinese investors and security of Chinese individuals, projects, and investments in Pakistan, state-run Associated Press Pakistan reported.

He said his government had taken measures to ensure fool-proof security to protect the lives of Chinese workers in Pakistan.

“I will spare no effort to protect the lives of Chinese workers and assure and guarantee that we will provide them security more than our children. This will never happen again,” he said.

Referring to the March terrorist attack in Besham in Pakistan, in which five Chinese personnel and their Pakistani driver were killed, he said it was “one of the saddest” days of his life.

This was followed by another suicide attack in Dasu in the same month, in which five Chinese nationals and a Pakistan driver were killed.

Mineral deposits

He told the forum that Pakistan had mineral deposits of around $10 trillion (£7.82 trillion) while the country’s exports stood at only $30 billion (£23.47bn).

The mineral deposits offer huge potential to dig out and convert them into finished and semi-finished goods for exports, he said, inviting them to invest in mining.

Sharif drew comparisons of economic development between Shenzhen city of 13 million people, which has a GDP of $500bn (£391bn), and Pakistan with 250 million people and a GDP of $380bn (£297bn).

CPEC initiative

Sharif is in Beijing for talks with Chinese president Xi Jinping and other officials to seek more investments and aid to shore up Pakistan’s deteriorating economic situation.

He will also attend a Pakistan-China Friendship and Business event and meet with the CEOs of leading Chinese companies working on the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The BRI is seen as an attempt by China to further its influence abroad with infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments across the world.

Several MoUs between the two countries on cooperation in various fields are likely to be signed, the report said.

Pakistan’s economy is facing severe headwinds, and it has formally requested the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the next bailout package of $6-8bn.

Sharif’s visit also coincides with the end of the general elections in India, which both view as a strategic rival. India firmly opposes CPEC because it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The CPEC started in 2013 and China has spent about $28bn (£21.9bn). But it is now wary of committing itself to more investments because of deteriorating security, political and economic crisis in Pakistan. (PTI)

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