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Safety concerns force Karachi businessmen to shift abroad

Islamabad, Oct 24 (IANS) More than a dozen business establishments in the Pakistani port city Karachi have shifted abroad due to rising violence.

Industry representatives said that poor law and order situation and lack of business prospects had forced the business communities to quit the Pakistani commercial hub and explore how to move abroad.

‘The entrepreneurs from construction and textile sectors were either moving altogether or had started making investments in Malaysia and China. These countries are more conducive for business at present instead of Dubai and Bangladesh,’ The News quoted Anjum Nisar, former chairman of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), as saying.

Pakistanis earlier invested heavily in Dubai’s real estate and other businesses because of softer terms and conditions. But the recent global recession and its impact on Dubai’s market has made the country less attractive, Nisar said.

KCCI acting president Talat Mahmood said: ‘Several textile factory owners were relocating to Bangladesh. We have informed the government of this alarming trend because it has become almost impossible to continue business amid targeted killings and so many other crimes like robberies and extortions.’

Said Shabbir Ahmed, a bedware exporter: ‘My partner has asked me to consider Romania, which offers a peaceful environment, lower tariffs, skilled labour and uninterrupted electricity.’

The recent spate of violence and target killing has left around 90 people dead in Karachi along during the last week or so. Several leading markets and industrial houses have been closed down.

Karachi, Pakistan’s only operational port, has been severely paralysed by poor law and order. A day’s closure causes a loss of more than Rs.5 billion.

The victims of target killing include both activists of political parties and commoners while incidents of kidnapping for ransom have also been on the rise.

‘It takes almost a week for the situation to normalise after any such incident,’ said Talat Mahmood.

Industries in Karachi contribute 67 percent to the national kitty and 35 percent to the GDP but nobody from the government pays heed to the city’s unending problems, he said.

In August, more than 100 people were killed after riots broke out following the assassination of Muttahida Qaumi Movement )MQM) legislator Raza Haider.

Pakistan’s economy has been paying the price of militancy, deteriorating law and order and political instability in recent years after the country decided to align with US forces in the ‘war on terror’ in n0eighbouring Afghanistan and its own troubled tribal region.

Poor security situation, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces, have hit hard trade. Shortage of electricity and other supplies has increased the woes of businessmen in Punjab and other places.

(Awais Saleem can be contacted at ians.pakistan@gmail.com)

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