Pakistan terror attack highlights risks Chinese firms face in country

14-May-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Chinese firms have been reminded of the security risks they face in Pakistan after a deadly attack on a hotel in the port city of Gwadar on Sunday.

Du Youkang, director of the Pakistan research centre at Fudan University in Shanghai, said Chinese firms needed to take the security issue seriously and do all they can to support the work of local security forces.

“Companies need to raise their own awareness but also understand that as they are in this kind of environment they must cooperate with Pakistani forces in their counterterrorism efforts, like allowing inspections [of their facilities],” he said.

The death toll from the attack on the Pearl Continental, which is popular with Chinese businesspeople and officials, rose to five on Sunday, local police chief Munir Ahmad Zia said, and several people were injured.

Four hotel workers and a member of the Pakistani navy were killed and the three attackers were also shot dead by Pakistani troops.

Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan called the attack an act of terrorism, and praised the “initial response by security guards and security forces” for preventing greater loss of life.

The Chinese embassy in Islamabad said on Twitter that it strongly condemned the attack.

“The heroic action of Pakistani Army & law enforcement agencies is highly appreciated. We express condolences to the families of the security guard who sacrificed his life & two security men who were injured.”

Du said that Islamabad was under growing pressure to combat the rising terrorist threat and prevent attacks happening on its soil.

“Pakistan is facing problems in attracting foreign investment, and if the security environment is bad people will feel they can’t be protected,” he said.

While Pakistan and China were working hard to deal with the terrorism threat, the issue was a global one, Du said, arguing that countries around the world needed to work together in areas such as intelligence sharing to prevent atrocities such as those seen in recent months in Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the US.

China has invested heavily on infrastructure projects in Pakistan a key ally including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistan has dispatched thousands of security forces to protect these projects, which span the entire length of the country, covering railway, power and transport projects.

The Chinese embassy told news website said it was investigating the situation.

People’s Daily reported that 53 Chinese nationals in the port area had been transferred to a rescue room under the protection of the Pakistani military during the attack.

“Security issues are factored into contracts for projects [in Pakistan], and are part of the cost of doing business. Of course these costs would be lower in other countries that are safer, but costs definitely go up in places where terrorist attacks are more frequent,” Du said.

Following the attacks, the China Construction Third Engineering Bureau working on the Peshwar-Karachi motorway, a key CPEC project, told Chinese media around 3,500 security personnel were employed to protect around a thousand Chinese workers and 19,000 Pakistani employees.

On Saturday officials said there were no foreign guests in the hotel at the time of the attack, though authorities continued to search the hotel for casualties on Sunday.

The Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack in a Twitter post that the social media network later deleted. The tweet read: “Expect more attacks China and Pakistan.”

The group has previously claimed responsibility for other deadly attacks, including the killing of 14 Pakistani navy and coastguard personnel near Gwadar port last month, and the attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi in November, where two police officers and two Pakistani civilians died along with the three attackers.


Category: China

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