CPEC's other side: Scuffles between Chinese workers and Pakistani soldiers

The mega Chinese infrastructure project China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through the length of Pakistan, other than saddling Islamabad with debt, has other issues now--corruption and scuffles between Chinese labourers and Pakistani soldiers.

CPEC's other side: Scuffles between Chinese workers and Pakistani soldiers

New Delhi: The mega Chinese infrastructure project China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through the length of Pakistan, other than saddling Islamabad with debt, has other issues now--corruption and scuffles between Chinese labourers and Pakistani soldiers.

One such incident of July 21 has come to light in which physical altercation took place between Chinese labourers and Pakistan protection party working on CPEC's Main Line -1 (ML-1) Karachi-Peshawar project. The incident happened in Pakistan's most populated Punjab Province's Bahawalpur district between 6.30 am-6.45 am.

The details of the incident have been mentioned in a letter from Lt Col Imran Qasim, commanding officer 27 Wing of Special Security Division (SSD) based at Bahawalpur to HQ 341 Light Commando Brigade.

To provide protection to Chinese workers, Pakistan has been providing "protection party" and in this case, six Pakistan Army personnel from 341 Light Commando Brigade led by Havaldar Asad Ullah were provided to protect--four Chinese labourers namely Li Yuyun, Li Yujun, Li Guoying and Bu Lei. In all the group had 12 people, including 2 Chinese civilians and one Pakistani Army vehicle.

The work was to be done at two sites--Tower G-1526 and Tower G-1523. The Chinese group was led by Li Yuyun who insisted on moving to G-1523 with the entire group, leaving only one Chinese labourer at G-1526. Havaldar Asad Ullah suggested an additional soldier and a Chinese vehicle should be left with the one Chinese labourer.

While Asad wanted to clarify the issue with his seniors, due to language problem, he was assaulted by Li Yuyun by hitting on his head twice. This made other Pakistani soldiers angry with Sapper Fazal ur Rehman come to the rescue of Asad before he was also attacked by other Chinese workers.

When the matter was reported to camp Commandant Maj Shehzad, he asked his soldiers to not confront with China and the matter was quietly hushed up. In this current incident, Lt Col Imran Qasim, Commanding officer of 27 Special Security Division has been involved in making money, by providing local labourers to Chinese contractors via proxy. The officer is involved in the embezzlement of tens of lakhs Pakistani rupees. Major Shehzad's lack of proactive action against the Chinese is believed to be under the direction of Lt Col Imran Qasim who is part of money-making in the project.

Such incidents have become symptomatic of the CPEC, with kickbacks helping Pakistani officers to be quite of any trouble being faced by the rank and file. A committee announced by Pakistani govt to look into the country's power sector where Chinese companies are heavily involved showed how the number of officials in the country is benefiting from it. The Chinese companies providing supplies at inflated prices was one of the key focus areas of the report. The report has been kept away from public scrutiny.