Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chinese National, Pakistani Translator Murdered in Peshewar

A Chinese woman estimated to be about 40 and her Pakistani translator, Suleiman Shams, 22, were shot and killed earlier today (February 28) by two gunmen on motorbikes while walking in the Kohati bazaar in the historic center of the city. As this posting is filed, no motive is known for the attack.

Police found a Chinese passport with a Pakistani tourist visa inside, a laptop and a digital camera in the woman's tote bag. The attack on the Chinese woman and her translator was the fifth shooting or bombing in Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since Thursday (February 23).

COMMENT: Peshawar is a city of 2.5 million near the Afghan border and has long been front-and-center in terms of violence blamed on a five-year Taliban insurgency led by militants opposed to the Pakistani government's alliance with US. Nevertheless, due to a variety of factors, relations between the US and Pakistan is probably at its most distrustful stage in over ten years.

Shamsul Arifeen, the father of the Pakistani translator, said his son was on vacation from studying English literature at the prestigious Government College University in Lahore, and he had told him he was working as a translator.

As is commonly known, being a foreigner in Pakistan these days is not without considerable daily risks.

There have also been a number of foreigners kidnapped, beginning with US aid worker Warren Weinstein, 70, who was kidnapped from his home in Lahore in August 2011, and continues to be missing, with no confirmed knowledge of his whereabouts or condition. Ironically, Weinstein was kidnapped the day before he was scheduled to permanently leave Pakistan, suggesting that "inside" information led to his abduction.

Diplomats assigned to embassies and consulates are generally well-protected, but it is aid workers and those working for NGOs that are most at risk of being kidnapped or harmed by extremist elements.

Updates on the attack described above will be provided as new information becomes available. At this point, it is unknown as to what the Chinese woman was doing in Pakistan, although presumably the Chinese Embassy may know, but may or may not disclose the purpose of her visit.

Although relations between the People's Republic of China and Pakistan began in 1950, when Pakistan was among the first countries to break relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan and recognize the PRC.

Although China has by no means provided as much foreign assistance to Pakistan as has the US, it safe to assume that relationships between China and Pakistan are better than are those between the US and Pakistan. Additionally, it is also a fact that the PRC has assisted Pakistan in nurturing its nuclear capability.

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