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National

March 5, 2018

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Over 92,000 foreigners visit Pakistan since launch of CPEC

ISLAMABAD: Since the start of ground work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship multi-billion dollar project of “One Belt and One Road Initiative," more than 39,000 Chinese came to Pakistan in past five years.

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More than 92,204 visas were issued by the government of Pakistan to foreign nationals in an apparent effort to expand foreign investment, business opportunities and tourism in the country during this period. Over 120 Pakistani missions abroad issued 29,622 visas to foreign nationals in 2013, 10,267 visas in 2014, 22,932 visas in 2015, 13,456 visas in 2016 and over 15,927 foreign nationals came to Pakistan in 2017, revealed official data/documents Geo News has had exclusive access to.

As many as 7,859 Chinese were issued visas in 2013, the starting period for the CPEC projects soon after the incumbent government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) came into power. Following this development, Pakistani missions in China issued over 7,859 visas to Chinese citizens in 2013, 69 visas in 2014, 13,268 visas in 2015, 6,268 visas in 2016 and according to informed officials at Ministry of Foreign Affairs that estimated 12,287 visas were issued to Chinese nationals by the authorities last year.

In addition to it, officials revealed to this correspondent that about 91,000 Chinese nationals visited Pakistan on tourist visas in past five years. Some 27,596 visa extensions were also granted to Chinese on recommendations of ministries of interior, foreign affairs, water and power and planning and development, a 34 percent increase as compare to 2015-16, added the officials. This frequent flow of foreign nationals encouraged foreign direct investment (FDI) which jumped 163 percent to $222.6 million in July 2017 on a year-on-year basis, revealed official data collected from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). The main contributor to this foreign net inflows has been China, which is investing around $60 billion under the CPEC's initiative. Pakistan received $2.4 billion in 2016-17, highest since the PML-N government took the charge of the state’s economic affairs while FDI remained $1.45 billion in previous PPP regime.

The government under Prime Minister Youth Programme also trained over 110,000 youth, majority of them as the authorities claimed, would be associated with CPEC projects in coming years.

For security of these Chinese workers, the government of Pakistan has also deputed an estimated 37,000 security personnel to guard Chinese workers engaged in some 22 projects directly associated with the CPEC and 214 other small and mega projects in Pakistan. For this purpose, the government has deployed 15,780 military personnel trained under umbrella of the Special Security Division (SSD) and the Maritime Security Force (MSF). Balochistan would get more security, as a few wings (450 personnel) of the MSF for coastal area, six wings (6,700 personnel) of the Frontier Corps, 3,210 police constables and 1,320 Levies personnel would guard all the routes. More than 4,200 policemen, 1,290 Rangers, 5,500 private security guards and 740 Askari Guards would protect various projects linked to the economic corridor in Punjab.

Official data continued to reveal that Pakistan issued visas to 1,505 Australian nationals in 2013, 549 visas to Germans in 2013 and 575 visas were issued to German nationals in 2017. The Pakistani Embassy in New Delhi also issued over a thousand visas to Indian nationals in 2013 and 584 Indians were given Pakistani visas in 2015.

As many as 786 Iranians were issued visas in 2013 and 945 visas were issued by Pakistani missions in Iran in 2016.

More than 3,000 Philippines were issued visas by Pakistani authorities in three years — 2013, 2015 and 2016. More than 1,027 Turkish also arrived in Pakistan in 2013 and then 631 Turkish nationals were granted visas in 2015.

Similarly, more than 8,200 British nationals also arrived in Pakistan i.e. 1,407 visas issued to UK nationals in 2013, 2,206 in 2014, 2,280 in 2015 and 2,172 visas were issued by Pakistani missions in 2017.

Pakistani missions in the United States of America also issued 2,189 visas to the US nationals in 2013, 2,076 in 2015 and 1,883 visas were issued in 2016. About 441 French nationals also arrived in Pakistan in 2016. The documents further revealed that some 16,000 Afghans were also issued visas by Pakistani authorities in three years i.e. 1,385 visas in 2013, 3,114 in 2014 and over 8,994 in 2017.

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