Pakistan has decided to further strengthen security to safeguard China’s trade interests after both sides recognized the difficult security situation faced by the strategic ally’s citizens, projects and institutions in the country.
Islamabad and Beijing agreed to further deepen their cooperation in the field of security as well as jointly defeat any conspiracy that sabotages friendship and friendly cooperation between them, according to the understanding reached between the two countries during the 11th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee , the highest. decision-making body of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
It took more than 10 months for both sides to develop a consensus draft of the outcomes of the 11th JCC held in October last year, particularly on issues of cooperation in various areas, including security.
Last week, Pakistan reviewed the implementation status of CPEC.
It was decided that acting Planning Minister Sami Saeed would hold a special meeting with Pakistani security officials to review the implementation of security-related measures agreed with China during the 11th JCC, according to planning ministry officials.
The wording of the final document suggested that the Chinese had taken the issue of the security of their citizens and commercial interests very seriously.
A Pakistani official involved in these deliberations over the past few months said that was why both sides had agreed to take extraordinary measures.
“Both sides acknowledged that Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in Pakistan face a ‘challenged security situation,'” the documents read.
In recent years, many Chinese nationals working on CPEC and other projects have been attacked.
These attacks have prompted a serious review of the institutional arrangements put in place to protect Chinese interests and lives in Pakistan.
Apart from security, lack of implementation of agreed policies and unsolicited proposals pushed by the Pakistani side have hampered work on the CPEC.
Due to the lack of consensus on many of these proposals, China did not agree to further expand cooperation in the areas of energy, climate change and tourism during the 11th MCC.
Pakistan did not follow established procedures for seeking China’s consent for some of these new projects in the energy and tourism sectors, leading to their rejection by Beijing during recent parliaments at the highest level.
Pakistani officials said both sides had now recognized the importance of the enhanced work plan in safeguarding the security of Chinese citizens and investments in the country.
It was decided that security cooperation would be enhanced through mutual consensus and unity of purpose.
Pakistan has also created two special security divisions for the protection of Chinese investments under the CPEC. It has now been decided that bulletproof vehicles will be used for all outdoor movements of Chinese nationals working on the projects.
Pakistan would help Chinese companies to purchase and import bulletproof vehicles independently in consultation with relevant stakeholders. China assured to provide security equipment and training to Pakistani officials for foolproof security of its citizens.
Sources said it was decided that China would set up a training center for private security guards of Pakistani security companies and personnel of police agencies to equip them with modern techniques as well as modules for the protection of lives of its citizens.
For the security of non-CPEC projects and others that were small, dispersed and distant, it was decided to further strengthen the current agreement.
However, Islamabad emphasized during these interactions that Chinese nationals residing in Pakistan must also comply with security protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The purpose of these measures was to ensure the protection of non-CPEC projects and Chinese nationals working on them.
Pakistan also urged China to ensure that its workers followed local labor laws and any non-compliance with them could lead to an untoward incident.
Pakistan expressed concern over Chinese nationals living in dispersed residences, encouraging them to reside in a clustered pattern in major cities with the aim of ensuring their safety.
China promised it would strengthen supervision of its companies operating in Pakistan and ensure they comply with the country’s safety regulations and standard procedures. The Pakistani side stressed the need to employ only capable security companies at project sites.
Pakistan is coming up with a new objective criteria for the classification of private security companies.
The project managements will hire only those companies that have been recognized as competent for Chinese security by the Center or the respective provincial governments.
To counter the growing propaganda against CPEC, Pakistan and China also agreed to publicize the achievements of the multi-billion dollar initiative and announce its mutual benefits.
It was also decided that CPEC would be promoted at the regional level as a harbinger of peace and stability.
Pakistan and China decided to encourage Afghanistan’s participation in regional CPEC projects. Pakistan will identify possible projects in different sectors that will be proposed for Afghanistan’s participation.
Last week, Pakistan reviewed the expansion of CPEC to Afghanistan.
The Ministry of External Affairs informed the acting Planning Minister that the modalities for third country participation in the CPEC had been shared with his ministry after consultations with all stakeholders.
However, the Pakistani authorities had not yet given formal approval to these modalities.
The delay in finalizing these modalities for third country participation could cause a delay in their signing outside the Belt and Road Forum to be held in China, according to Planning Ministry officials.