Pakistan shuts businesses run frequented by Chinese to prevent terror attacks, says report

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A Nikkei Asia report has revealed that Pakistani authorities are resorting to temporarily shutting some businesses run that are frequented by Chinese nationals as they work towards preventing terrorist attacks.

As per Nikkei Asia, Chinese interests in Pakistan have become a prime target for separatists and other militants in recent years, including several deadly attacks. This has been a thorn in bilateral ties, with Beijing urging its cash-strapped South Asian partner to do more to protect its interests.

Pakistan is witnessing a sharp increase in terrorist attacks. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ consular department in February issued a fresh warning to citizens that they may be at high risk.

Karachi police, faced with pressure from China, limited resources and individuals who do not always take sufficient precautions on their own, in mid-March sealed off some businesses after receiving intelligence alerts about possible attacks.

“Despite repeated warnings, several Chinese-owned businesses failed to implement security protocols, leading to their sealing until satisfactory security arrangements are made,” a senior police officer in Karachi told Nikkei Asia.

He said it was difficult to give a precise number of affected places because police were closing and reopening establishments.

According to Karachi police handouts seen by Nikkei Asia, authorities closed businesses including a Chinese restaurant, a supermarket and a marine product company. Officials said the entities failed to comply with standard security protocols issued under the Sindh Security of Vulnerable Establishments Act, a provincial law that ensures security arrangements for places that could be targeted.

The law defines such precautions as “effective physical and technical security arrangements including installation and proper functioning of closed circuit television cameras, biometric system, walkthrough gates, security alarm and other modern gadgetries”.

Karachi has seen its share of attacks aimed at Chinese as separatists have broadened their targets beyond Pakistani state institutions and personnel.

One of the highest-profile attacks was the April 2022 suicide bombing near the Confucius Institute at the University of Karachi, which killed three Chinese teachers and a Pakistani driver. There was also an attack in June 2020 on the building that houses the stock exchange, partly owned by a Chinese consortium, and a 2018 attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi. The Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for all three, according to Nikkei Asia.

A gunman in September killed a cashier at a dental clinic and injured the dentist and his wife. All three victims were ethnic Chinese. A Sindhi rebel group is believed to have been behind the shooting.

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