A year ago, Pakistani companies were leaking to news agencies that Chinese firms were using Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” project to invest heavily in Pakistan’s spinning and weaving industry.
Six months later, the leaks turned into claims that memoranda of understanding (MOU) worth $375 mn for textile investments had been signed at Shanghai’s International Textile Asia exhibition. But there is still no sign of any investment and in the province of Punjab alone, the number of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association members has fallen by a third over the past year.
One current argument is that the alleged Chinese investors know Pakistan’s mills are under severe stress and are just “waiting for more units to die so that they could acquire them for peanuts”. Or the alleged MOU’s in Shanghai never existed. Or the “One Belt, One Road” project is simply Chinese PR. Five years ago, “One Belt One Road” was touted as the saviour of Faisalabad Textile City: a 3,400 acre project first announced in August 2004 as “becoming operational in eight months time”
No-one seems to have even bothered reporting on the collapse of that idea. And the Pakistan Textile City project in Sind province close to Karachi, whose imminent opening we have reported with a straight face for well over a decade, still has not been officially pronounced dead. In February, the province’s Chief Minister vowed “We are ready to revive the city and pay the liability as per our share but rest of the liability would have to be borne by the federal government”
Someone, somewhere, somehow is paying for these people to do all these things.