THE confidence expressed by multinational companies operating here regarding an improvement in security conditions in the country will help project Pakistan globally as a peaceful destination for foreign visitors and capital. The manner in which law enforcement swiftly tackled the attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi the other day seems to have reinforced foreign investors’ trust in the country’s ability to counter future security challenges. The annual security survey released by the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry that captures the perceptions of the 200 member foreign companies regarding the security environment is a critical assessment of operating conditions in Pakistan. The findings of this survey are taken seriously by potential foreign investors and diplomats. The very fact that the OICCI security surveys have for the last few years recorded positive sentiments expressed by foreign investors about continuously improving security conditions is helping mend Pakistan’s international image.
The 2020 survey findings also reaffirm that law and order, especially in the two major business centres of Karachi and Lahore, has improved as reflected by the increasing number of trips to Pakistan by OICCI member firms’ senior management from their headquarters and regional offices, as well as the number of their board meetings held here in the last one year. The initiatives implemented in the last five years under NAP to tackle security challenges after the 2014 APS attack in Peshawar have helped improve security in most parts of the country. Consequently, many countries including the US, UK, Portugal and Norway have significantly eased travel advisories for their citizens planning to visit Pakistan. British Airways also resumed its flight operations in Islamabad last year as Pakistan was declared the best holiday destination for 2020 by a reputable British travel magazine. The number of tourists from abroad had been rising in the last few years because of improved security conditions until the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world, forcing countries everywhere to impose lockdowns to halt the spread of infection. However, the challenges remain, as reflected by the militant attack on PSX and periodic protests by certain organisations, disrupting life and business in cities. Besides, the government still has a lot to do to root out militancy in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Indeed, the country is much safer today than it was a few years ago. Yet there is little to no room for complacency.
Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2020