Chinese Enterprises Boosting Pakistani Employment
ISLAMABAD, Aug 16 (Gwadar Pro)- On the nearly 400-kilometer motorway from Sukkur to Multan, the continuous flow of traffic runs smoothly every day. Vehicles passing here are not only the means of transport, but also carry the hopes and dreams of the Pakistani people. The successful implementation and construction of Pakistan’s PKM Highway, the largest transport infrastructure project under CPEC, has changed the fortunes of a generation here.
While providing machinery, labor and technical consulting services for PKM and other CPEC projects including Gwadar East Bay Expressway and Gwadar International Airport, China Yunnan Sunny Road and Bridge Co., Ltd has also made a difference to the lives of local people, especially those young people who come out from small towns to explore opportunities. Shahid Karim, the company’s chef, had a chequered work experience before coming here.
Shahid Karim comes from Gojal, a small town that is half an hour’s drive from Hunza and 3.5 hours from Khunjerab, the border with China. Like most people around him, Shahid left home for work at a pretty young age. In contrast to his initial excitement, he was soon in distress.
Lacking education and skills, he was forced to work as a labor in a fabric factory on the outskirts of the city. Five hundred rupees a day, a dormitory of five, no air conditioning -- these are the details he still vividly recalls. Before long, he moved to a fishery where he stayed for 10 years. During this period, a flash flood destroyed his village in 2010. After that, all of his land was buried by a barrier lake formed after that. In 2013, he set up a chicken shop with a friend, using 66,000 rupees he had saved from years of work. Business was good until his partner took the money and ran away one night, never to be heard from again.
Life setbacks, natural disasters, the betrayal of his friend...... After such failures, he once lost his hope for the future. After the bankruptcy, he was introduced to work as an assistant to a Chinese chef. He always stood at the stove in his spare time to observe how to cook. Eventually, his hard-working, studious character won over the Chinese chef. So the Chinese chef decided to teach him how to make Chinese food. From chopping to stir-frying, he taught him patiently step-by-step.
When the Chinese chef left Pakistan for personal reasons in 2019, Shahid became the chef naturally, and his dishes, which combine the characteristics of Pakistani and Chinese food, were universally loved by his colleagues and the guests. Thanks to his excellent performance, his salary increased more than fivefold from 15,000 rupees when he first joined the company. In 2021, he used the savings to rebuild a two-story house in his hometown and supported his wife to pursue a master’s degree at Allama Iqbal Open University.
Manzoor Alam, one of many middle-aged men who have traveled from the north to the big cities to pursue their dreams, is another example. It’s been seven years, but Manzoor still remembers the warm reception he received from his two Chinese colleagues when he first entered the office. At that moment, he felt, for the first time, the corporate culture of the Chinese company and the warmest friendship between the Chinese and Pakistani people.
Manzoor’s intelligence and responsibility soon caught the attention of Mr. Li, in charge of the office. Mr. Li sent Manzoor Alam to a professional school to learn Chinese language and the company bore his tuition. Since then, he has mastered basic everyday Chinese and performed better in his work. Two years after his joining, he was promoted to house manager, responsible for daily management and reception of delegations. In 2021, he was awarded the Excellent Employee.
With his help, a total of 15 relatives and friends got jobs in different Chinese companies. Many of them were lifted out of poverty. Since 2018, in particular, he has quietly funded two poor students in Islamabad and two families in need in his village by providing them with tuition and food.
Both Shahid Karim and Manzoor’s lives changed dramatically after joining the Chinese company. They have gained far beyond the salary during their years in the Chinese company. More importantly, they learned a lot skills and truly hold their destinies in their own hands. Although they are not front-line construction workers, their efforts and contributions as logistics workers are also respectable. At the peak of the project, the Chinese company created about 1,000 local jobs. The stories of these Pakistani staff are the best interpretation of a Chinese proverb, “it is better to teach a man how to fish than to give him fish.”