Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, emphasised on Thursday the importance of increasing security for Chinese-backed projects in Pakistan as the nation’s investment in the country grows.

“The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is attracting more investment. Aside from special economic zones, Chinese companies are investing in [projects] “The federal minister made the remarks during a news conference in Islamabad following a meeting of the CPEC Joint Coordination Committee (JCC).

The federal minister stated that the necessity for additional security was heightened by the Dasu tragedy, in which at least 12 people were murdered, including nine Chinese nationals working on the hydel project, when a bus transporting them crashed into a ravine following an explosion.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stated during a news conference in August that the Dasu incident included India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS).

Umar, commenting on the government’s actions in this respect, stated that the Centre has created a strategy to increase security for China-backed projects.

According to the federal minister, China has also emphasised the importance of increasing security on projects sponsored by Chinese investors.

Umair observed that neighbouring countries were jealous of the CPEC.

“Pakistan and China are committed to the CPEC,” he added, adding that the Ministry of Interior has established a special cell to monitor the country’s security situation.

According to the federal minister, China accounts for half of Pakistan’s foreign investment, and the country “could not have a greater friend” than Beijing, which has always stood by the country.

“All projects backed by Chinese investment have CPEC-level security […] Pakistan has a clear foreign policy: we will not back down from our alliance with China.”

According to the federal minister, Pakistan took such judgments in its foreign policy for which it paid a high price. “We were involved in the conflicts and cold wars of other countries.”

Umar stated that despite the difficult conditions caused by coronavirus, work on CPEC projects continued, and personnel participating in the projects returned to Pakistan last year.

When briefing the media on the meeting, the federal minister stated that a joint IT working group for CPEC will be formed. He said that China and the United States were competing in 5G technology, so Islamabad could benefit from Beijing’s experience in the sector.

In response to a query, the federal minister stated that the Ministry of Interior was aware of the arrest of suspects in the Dasu investigation.

Umar stated that because the Dasu project was not a part of the CPEC, the security offered to it was not at the CPEC standard. “China has worries about security,” he added, “but we have initiated efforts to overcome them.”

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