Pak­istan could aban­don Afghan projects, says of­fi­cial

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

In a sign of fast de­te­ri­o­rat­ing ties be­tween Is­lam­abad and Kabul, Pak­istan has in­di­cated it could aban­don work on de­vel­op­ment projects in Afghanistan in the wake of ha­rass­ment of its work­ers there.

A Pak­istani of­fi­cial in Kabul said that au­thor­i­ties in the Logar prov­ince ear­lier this week de­tained an en­gi­neer, who is work­ing on a Pak­istan-funded hos­pi­tal, for nearly five hours.

On May 24, a po­lice squad vis­ited the un­der-con­struc­tion 100-bed Naeb Amin­ul­lah Khan Log­ari Hos­pi­tal in Logar prov­ince to search and clear the struc­ture ahead of an im­pend­ing visit of the gov­er­nor.

As many as 45 Pak­istani work­ers, in­clud­ing engi­neers, are in­volved in the con­struc­tion of the $ 14 mil­lion hos­pi­tal. Be­sides Pak­ista­nis, around 90 Afghan na­tion­als also work on the site.

The Pak­istani of­fi­cial said po­lice took is­sue with an elec­tri­cal ma­chine claim­ing that it could be used for ter­ror­ism.

"Pak­istani con­trac­tors ex­plained to the po­lice of­fi­cer that the ma­chine is used only for elec­tri­cal pur­poses but the po­lice of­fi­cer was adamant on his view and took the site en­gi­neer to the po­lice sta­tion," the Pak­istani of­fi­cial said. He said the en­gi­neer, a con­trac­tor, later con­tacted the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion in Logar and the gov­er­nor. It was on their in­ter­ven­tion that the en­gi­neer was re­leased, but not be­fore he was de­tained for five hours.

"Ha­rass­ment of Pak­istani na­tion­als, who are work­ing on var­i­ous projects, is now com­mon and has de­mor­alised them," the Pak­istani of­fi­cial lamented. He added that the Afghan gov­ern­ment is lax on en­sur­ing se­cu­rity for work­ers. The of­fi­cial fur­ther pointed out that Pak­istani work­ers and engi- neers have been killed and kid­napped in the past. "If the sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ues, we will be forced to aban­don projects," he warned. He also com­plained that Pak­istani work­ers also face prob­lems in se­cur­ing Afghan visas and ex­ten­sions in visas.

Mean­while, Afghanistan's top diplo­mat in Is­lam­abad said that it was just one in­ci­dent. "We should not gen­er­alise [ based on] one iso­lated in­ci­dent of a worker de­tained and then re­leased within a few hours to all Pak­istani work­ers in Afghanistan," Afghan Am­bas­sador Omar Zakhilwal said.

He added that around 100,000 work in Afghanistan with­out any re­stric­tions. Pak­istan is pro­vid­ing $ 500 mil­lion for ca­pac­ity build­ing in var­i­ous sec­tors in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, health as well as build­ing schools, hos­pi­tals, roads and other com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fras­truc­tures of Afghanistan, ac­cord­ing the Pak­istan Em­bassy web­site.

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