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Peshawar killing evokes fear among foreigners

July 10, 2007

Email

ISLAMABAD, July 9: The Sunday's attack in which three Chinese men were killed near Peshawar evoked fear among Chinese citizens and foreign nationals living in Pakistan. People from Far Eastern countries, especially Japan, Korea and the Philippines closely resemble the Chinese people, fear that they can be mistakenly targeted.

Sources told Dawn on Monday that Japanese people, especially those working in the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and other cultural and economic assistance organisations had started taking extra security measures on the advice of their embassy.

Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Islamabad has warned its citizens to take extra security measures.

"We do not encourage Chinese citizens to start businesses in Pakistan," Mao Siwei, deputy chief of the mission of the Chinese embassy in Islamabad told Dawn.

He said there were about 3,500 Chinese engineers and technicians working on various state-run projects across Pakistan. In Balochistan, they were mostly involved in the Gwadar port construction.

He said while there were no exact figures about the number of Chinese people involved in private ventures but, according to a leading Chinese newspaper, the number of Chinese people living in Pakistan could be about 5,000.

Pakistan has very close relations with China as Beijing has been its major supporter in defence and other projects. However, the growing number of attacks on Chinese nationals has changed the impression that the Chinese are the safest foreigners.

In Pakistan, the Chinese have so far being targeted for three reasons.

They have been targeted in Balochistan allegedly by Baloch nationalists for funding some mega development projects in the province, which the nationalists were opposing.

In October 2004, two Chinese engineers working on the Gomal Zam dam project were kidnapped from Tank, near the South Waziristan Agency.

At that time, it was widely believed that it was a retaliatory move at the behest of the Uyghur militants from China's Xinjiang region, after one of their leaders had been earlier killed in clashes with Pakistani security forces.

The latest attack in which three Chinese were killed is the outcome of the current Lal Masjid standoff.