Pak PM urges Balochistan people to ensure security of ‘friendly’ foreign investors
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has urged the people of Gwadar in Pakistan's restive Balochistan to ensure the security of "friendly" foreign investors, including from China, who are making huge investments in the development of the impoverished but resource-rich province.
Shehbaz visited the key area for the second time since coming to power in April and addressed a gathering of fishermen and others at the Gwadar Business Centre on Friday.
"China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey, Qatar, and other countries have been extending financial and diplomatic help and cooperation to Pakistan for 75 years and bailing the country out in difficult times.
"If we do not fulfill our responsibility for ensuring the security of their investors, engineers, and workers, they will go back," he said.
The prime minister said that during his visit to Beijing, China's premier Li Keqiang had assured him of financial help and cooperation and an agreement was signed the other day under which China would provide USD 2.3 billion in soft loan to Pakistan, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE also extended help.
He said that these countries had not put any conditions for investment in Pakistan and for developing "our agriculture, industry, energy sector".
"Unfortunately, their engineers, workers, and other people, who are helping us in development, are being targeted," he said.
Sharif also expressed displeasure over the delay in completing the development projects initiated five years ago in Gwadar.
Referring to the demands of fishermen, he said that steps were being taken to resolve the issues of displacement and difficulty in access to the sea that was affecting the fisheries sector.
He said the establishment of Gwadar University had been included in the Public Sector Development Programme.
Meanwhile, a key local leader organized a protest on the occasion for the rights of the people, especially those who went missing over the years.
Hundreds of people belonging to the "Gwadar Ko Haq Do" (give rights to Gwadar) movement and different political parties and members of the civil society gathered at the Y-Chowk carrying placards and banners inscribed with their demands.
Marching on various roads of the city despite tight security, they chanted slogans against the federal and Balochistan governments and in support of their demands. Another rally was also taken out by the heirs of missing persons, according to the Dawn report.
Balochistan is a mineral-rich and volatile region of Pakistan where a low-level insurgency has been going on for years. The Baloch nationalists frequently attack the security forces and the Chinese workers, warning Beijing to stop its investment activities.
Three Chinese teachers were killed when an explosion triggered by a burqa-clad woman suicide bomber from the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) ripped through a van of the Confucius Institute at the prestigious University of Karachi on April 26.
Last month, senior Pakistani lawmaker, Senator Mushahid Hussain, said that the Chinese confidence in Pakistan's security system's ability to protect its citizens and projects was seriously shaken after the Karachi University attack.
China has invested billions of dollars in multiple development projects in its "all-weather ally" Pakistan. The ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan's Balochistan with China's Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of China's ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013. Originally valued at USD 46 billion, the projects were worth USD 62 billion as of 2017.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)