Chinese labourers assault Pakistan Army soldiers; senior officers silent
When Chinese labourers working on the CPEC, the economic corridor linking the two countries, insulted and assaulted Pakistani soldiers on July 21, it was quietly hushed up. The Chinese labourers beat up two Pakistan Army soldiers–Havilder Asadullah and Sapper Fazal ur Rahman — who have strict orders not to retaliate. Li Yuyun, one of the Chinese labourers, hit the havildar on the head twice, while the other labourers–Li Yujun, Li Guoying and Bu Lei– attacked the sapper.
Even for the all-powerful Pakistan Army, the Chinese are special, they are above the law. The attack, not the first of its kind, was between the Chinese labourers working on Main Line 1 of the CPEC and the soldiers, who were supposed to protect them.
Explaining what happened, Lieutenant Colonel Imran Qasim, commanding officer of Wing 27 of the Special Security Division in Bahawalpur wrote to 341 Light Commando Brigade HQ, saying that there was an altercation between the Chinese and the Pakistani soldiers over the positioning of workmen and security staff at the two work sites: Tower G-1526 and Tower G-1523, a kilometre from each other.
Even though the soldiers were beaten up, the Camp Commandant, Major Shehzad, asked his men to ‘disengage.’ Sources said the incident has left Pakistani Army soldiers demoralised as they know that their officers like Lieutenant Colonel Qasim are involved with the Chinese contractors, taking their money and supplying local labourers at inflated rates. With the Chinese above the law, Major Shehzad, while inquiring into the incident, didn’t even question the Chinese, and instead, got the information from ‘third parties.’
Pakistani Army officers deliberately ignore such high-handed behaviour. In June 2019, another wing– the 86th– of the 341 Light Commando Brigade had twice complained about the Chinese using army vehicles to visit ‘unnecessary places,’ a euphemism for red light areas.
This had led to unacceptably high levels of fuel consumption. The letters had spoken about delays to the project because of the use of poor quality of the material by the Chinese construction firms and payment problems.
This case is another example of the larger problem of Chinese firms paying off officers so that they could cut corners. This is especially so in the power sector and also, in aviation. There have been cases like the construction of the new international airport in Islamabad, where parts of buildings have collapsed even before project completion.
The airport project was given to a Chinese firm and investigations found that over a dozen armed forces officers were paid off. These include top officers of the Pakistani Army and Air force.