The recent surge in street crimes, strikes and violence in Karachi has caused anxiety in multinational companies, forcing the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), representative organisation of multinationals operating in Pakistan, to issue a travel advisory for corporate executives.
The re-emergence of strikes in Karachi has added to the woes of the businesses community, which is already dealing with street crimes and target killings – a big cause of concern for the corporate sector.
The OICCI, which represents 185 multinational companies operating in Pakistan, issues a travel advisory for corporate executives from time to time whenever it deems its necessary.
More than 300 people have been killed in July because of violence in the country’s main commercial hub.
In view of the tense situation in Karachi, the Security, Law and Order Subcommittee of the OICCI recently issued a travel advisory for corporate managers, asking them to remain alert to street crimes, mob attacks on cars and demonstrations.
Talking to The Express Tribune, representatives of the OICCI said that multinationals operating in the country were perturbed over the security situation like all other businesses. Muggings, arson, extortions, kidnappings, robberies and strikes are a major hindrance to business activities, they said.
Another OICCI representative said that a stable and secure environment in the city was of utmost importance because more than 80 per cent of OICCI member-companies were based in Karachi.
Responding to a question, the OICCI representative said that unannounced strikes and a sudden rise in violence were the biggest concern of the OICCI member-companies, as it not only hampered business activities but also put the lives of businesspersons and employees at risk. “Moreover, it causes a lot of nuisance for employees who get stuck commuting between home and work. We hope that the local authorities are concerned about such frequent roadblocks, strikes and threats to individual security.”
Saad Amanullah Khan, vice president of the American Business Council (ABC), a representative association of 67 American multinationals operating in Pakistan, said that the law and order situation was not improving in Karachi, thus causing anxiety in the corporate circles.
Members of both representative bodies said that the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi will discourage foreign investment in the country. They said that the government must find a permanent solution to the security situation. Foreign investment fell 60.8 per cent in the first month of the current financial year to $61.9 million with unstable security being cited as one of the core reasons.
Commenting on the travel advisory issued by the OICCI, the CEO of a multinational said on condition of anonymity that deteriorating law and order in Karachi had been a cause of concern especially for corporate executives.
He said that personal security in Karachi was now the biggest issue in the corporate sector. “The problem is that instead of improving, the situation has deteriorated over the months,” he said.
Travelling dos and don’ts
• Avoid hanging jackets in cars
• Remove tie while travelling
• Take off employment card
• Don’t place mobile phone and other valuables on dashboard
• Choose well-defined fairways for driving
• Avoid congested roads and shortcuts
• Keep car doors locked while driving
• Keep the window rolled up at all-time
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.