Asad Umar stresses need to ramp up security as Chinese investment in Pakistan rises

Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar stressed on Thursday the need to increase security for projects backed by the Chinese, as the country’s investment in Pakistan rises.

“The investment through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is increasing. Chinese investors are investing in [projects] besides special economic zones,” the federal minister said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad after a meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on the CPEC.

The federal minister noted that the need for ramping up security had increased after the Dasu incident, where at least 12 people, including nine Chinese nationals working on the hydel project, were killed when a bus carrying them fell into a ravine following an explosion.

In a press conference in August, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) were involved in the Dasu incident.

Umar, shedding light on the government’s steps taken in this regard, said that the Centre has devised a strategy to ramp up security for China-backed projects.

The federal minister said China had also stressed on ramping up security on projects backed by investors from their country.

Umair noted that neighbouring countries were envious of the CPEC.

“Pakistan and China remain committed to the CPEC,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Interior had set up a special cell for monitoring the security situation in the country.

The federal minister stated that half of the Pakistan’s foreign investment comes from China, and Pakistan could “not have a better friend” than Beijing, which has stood by the country at all times.

“CPEC-level security is being provided to all projects backed by Chinese investment […] Pakistan has a clear foreign policy: we will not step back one inch when it comes to our friendship with China.”

The federal minister said Pakistan made such decisions in its foreign policy for which it had to pay a huge price. “We were a part of other [countries’] wars and cold wars.”

Umar said that work on CPEC projects did not come to a stop despite the tough conditions that had arisen due to coronavirus, and the workers who were involved in the projects had also returned to Pakistan last year.

Briefing the media about the meeting, the federal minister said a joint IT working group for CPEC would be established. He pointed out China and the US were competing in 5G technology, so Islamabad could gain from Beijing’s expertise in the field.

Responding to a question, the federal minister said the Ministry of Interior was aware of the arrest of suspects in the Dasu probe.

Umar said the Dasu project was not a part of the CPEC, and as a result, the security provided to it was not at the level of CPEC. “China has reservations on security, but we have begun work to address them,” he said.