Police officers in Pakistan this week arrested an engineer from China for allegedly pushing a Pakistani worker into a three-story-deep furnace for failing to understand his instructions at a factory in Punjab’s Faisalabad region. The move prompted other employees to protest against Chinese national’s alleged mistreatment of locals staffers.
The worker, identified only as Shehroz, survived but sustained burns to 40 percent of his body.
The arrest of the Chinese national took place Wednesday in the Faisalabad District of Punjab province.
A reporter from the Press Trust of India (PTI) explains:
A Chinese national was arrested in Pakistan on Wednesday for allegedly pushing a Pakistani worker into a burning furnace in Punjab province for failing to comprehend his instructions, triggering protests by co-workers, a media report said.
The Pakistani labourer [identified only as Sehroz] was pushed into the furnace by the Chinese supervisor of the labour force. The Chinese boss reportedly lost his cool after the worker failed to comprehend his instructions, the report said.
The injured [identified oly as Shehroz] employee was shifted to a hospital for treatment.
China provides cash-strapped Pakistan with weapons and money to keep mutual enemy India in check.
Beijing has imported tens of thousands of Chinese nationals to work on its projects in Pakistan, particularly the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a component of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) seeking to connect China to more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere through a massive network of land and sea routes.
Shehroz suffered substantial burns and ultimately ended up in the hospital, Dawn reports, noting that he remains alive.
“They [factory workers] alleged that following [a heated] exchange of words; the Chinese engineer deliberately pushed a worker, [identified only as] Shehroz, into a three-foot-deep furnace,” Dawn reports.
The workers argued that local law enforcement tried to “hush-up the issue,” namely by pressuring the victim into stating that he fell into the furnace accidentally.
Police Superintendent (SP) for Faisalabad District’s town of Madina, Tahir Maqsood, reportedly indicated on Wednesday:
The workers were alleging that the supervisor pushed their colleague into a furnace intentionally, while the [Chinese] foreigner claimed that it was an accident. The worker, according to doctors, suffered 40 percent burns, he added.
[Pakistani workers] complained that nobody listened to their complaints against the foreigners who were given protocol by police and other government officials. They alleged that following exchange of words, the Chinese engineer deliberately pushed a worker, Shehroz, into a three-foot-deep furnace.
Maqsood alleged the authorities are actively investigating the alleged murder and would make a decision based on merit.
“Following the alleged incident, Chinese engineers and workers exchanged words. The workers staged a protest demonstration against the Chinese engineers and demanded registration of a case against the suspect,” Dawn further notes.
The workers threatened to go on strike for an indefinite period if authorities fail to make an arrest.
While talking to reporters, disgruntled factory workers said Chinese nationals working at the factory treated them harshly.
The incident took place at a “battery manufacturing” facility amid a dispute between the Chinese supervisor and a worker over a missing remote control for one of the machines, Superintendent Maqsood, a division supervisor said, according to Dawn.
China has expressed concerns about protecting the Chinese nationals from groups that opposed Beijing’s’ presence, namely the ethnic separatist group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which also stands against Islamabad for not granting them autonomy.
The BLA has repeatedly attacked Chinese projects in Pakistan, particularly BRI initiatives that run through Balochistan.
To the dismay of the BLA, the Chinese BRI project is expected to run through Balochistan, which is plagued by Islamist, sectarian, and separatist insurgencies.
The United States has expressed concerns that China is using the BRI as a vehicle for “predatory lending” practices that can erode a borrowing country’s sovereignty by miring it in unsustainable debt collateralized with natural resources and other strategic assets.
Under current BRI agreements in Africa and Europe, China can take over infrastructure if the borrowing nations default on their loans.
Moreover, the U.S believes China is using BRI as a smokescreen for expanding its military influence across the world.
In May, BLA separatists, many of them considered secular, demanded that Beijing put the breaks on what they consider to be “exploitative projects in Balochistan,” Gulf News reports.
They also warned Pakistan to end its “genocide of Baloch people, otherwise, we would respond with more attacks.”