Peshawar: Amid growing security threats in Pakistan, Chinese engineers had suspended work on hydropower projects in Swat and Shangla districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in July 2022, reported The Nation.

Amid the deteriorating condition of law and order in the country, security agencies were told to make a foolproof security arrangement for Chinese engineers. The Chinese engineers have still not resumed their work on the aforementioned hydropower projects.

A meeting, under the chairmanship of Energy and Power Secretary Nisar Ahmad Khan, took place on Monday wherein the security agencies were directed that an integrated strategy would be adopted for the timely completion of hydropower projects worth billions of rupees, reported The Nation.

Notably, the team of Chinese engineers working on the 84 megawatts Mitiltan hydropower project in Swat suspended the work and moved to Islamabad in July 2022 due to the security situation.

The meeting was informed that a Chinese expert team had also stopped working on the 11.8 megawatts Karora hydropower project in Shangla district since May 2022, reported The Nation.

The construction work on the project had come to a standstill and it was feared that the security threat situation and the delay could cause heavy losses to the province.

The participants of the meeting discussed various options to improve the security arrangements. Bullet-proof vehicles for foreign engineers would be arranged and fool-proof security arrangements ensured, reported The Nation.

At the end of the meeting, the secretary of energy said that the provincial government should adopt a well-planned security strategy including establishing close contacts with the relevant district administration, police and other agencies so that work on the energy projects may not suffer.

Meanwhile, Gwadar Rights Movement leader, Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman, issued a warning to Chinese nationals to leave the Gwadar port area, reported The Maritime Executive.

Maulana issued a threat to the Chinese nationals living in Gwadar, according to reports, warning that if the government "ignores" their peaceful protests, the participants have a right "to pick up and use weapons to protect our rights."

Media reports suggest that there are fewer than 500 Chinese in Gwadar, all based in the Gwadar Port compound, reported Asian Lite International.

Protests on the expansion of Pakistan's Gwadar Port, a key asset for China's BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) in Asia, continue to escalate, potentially jeopardizing economic ties between China and Pakistan, reported The Maritime Executive.

Last week, the events took a new twist after a protest leader warned Chinese nationals to leave Gwadar by the end of the week.

Chinese citizens are facing increasing threats from different militant groups in Pakistan, with a rise in recent incidents of targeted attacks on China nationals. The growing anti-China sentiment in Gwadar may adversely impact the progress of key CPEC projects.

The protests led by Rehman, affiliated with the Gwadar Rights Movement, have been going on for about two months.

Participants are demanding an immediate ban on illegal trawling in Baluchistan's maritime boundaries, recovery of missing Baloch people, closure of unnecessary security checkpoints, primacy to local workers over Chinese citizens, maximum concessions in border trade with Iran, and end to narcotics, among other Gwadar-related issues.