Wednesday June 29, 2022

Ahsan wants monthly review of security for Chinese nationals

May 07, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal on Friday directed the departments concerned to ensure a security review meeting on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) every month, besides asking them to resolve outstanding difficulties in visas issuance to them.

Official sources told The News Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah could not attend the meeting due to his engagements outside the federal capital. The sources quoted Ahsan Iqbal as directing the additional interior secretary to prepare a list of Chinese nationals working in different companies under the umbrella of CPEC projects and then place security arrangements for them.

He said it is regrettable that only a couple of meetings related to CPEC security could be held in the last four years. He was quoted as saying that had the security arrangements and related projects devised from 2013 to 2018 been implemented in letter and spirit, no security breach would have occurred. He went on to say that if the CPEC security was not ensured, how such an important strategic project would be accomplished.

Another official said the previous PMLN government planned to establish a security personnel headquarters but this project could not be executed in the last four years. An official statement issued after the meeting stated that Ahsan Iqbal directed ensuring a security review meeting on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor every month. The minister gave the direction while chairing a meeting to review the security progress on CPEC projects. The meeting was attended by the secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the secretary, Ministry of Interior, the secretary, Ministry of Information and other stakeholders.

The minister emphasized the need for building a secure environment for the CPEC and effectively tackling kinetic/non-kinetic challenges. “The CPEC is a flagship project of Pakistan and China Economic Cooperation that can enable Pakistan to become an industrial economy. It is unfortunate that the momentum of 2013-18 couldn’t be sustained,” he said.

He expressed concern that the Pakistani side of the CPEC Joint Working Group on Security has not been meeting frequently. He directed the Ministry of Interior to regularly convene these meetings on a monthly basis. Without a coordinated effort, there can be gaps that must be filled, he said, adding that the National Counterterrorism Authority (NACTA) should function as per its laid down role and objectives to provide the govt with an in-depth assessment of security challenges that are grounded in the socioeconomics of the country. It will help the government expand its security lens by addressing socioeconomic grievances of people that may if left unaddressed translate into security challenges.

“Our security lens must also focus on limiting the vulnerability of our youth towards violence, extremism and propaganda,” said the minister who vowed to undertake measures to ensure that youths are not alienated in the socioeconomic development process, especially in less-developed regions of Pakistan. He directed all relevant ministries to ensure that the security protocols are followed by the Chinese working on the CPEC. Furthermore, he said propaganda against the CPEC is an attempt to deprive people of less-developed regions in Pakistan of positive socioeconomic externalities stemming from the CPEC. In this regard, he directed engaging people in the development process. He directed the secretary, Ministry of Information, to engage local media to motivate the youth in Balochistan.