A young female Chinese diplomat's 33 months in Karachi
Contributed by Li Xiaomeng；Reviewed by H.A.Hassan
As if in the blink of an eye, February 23, 2019 came up, the exact day that marked the 33 months I had been working in Karachi. Almost three months ago, the terrorists attacked the Consulate General in Karachi. That day, November 23, 2018 remains a nightmare for me. At 9:13 am, I was on the phone with a colleague of mine from the consular department. Suddenly, some noise interrupted from the other end of the line, and the next second I heard my friend speaking in a rushed tone, "Xiao Meng, I got to go, sounds like a gunfight breaking out!"
Photo: Pakistani EOD police on the scene of the terrorist attack.
The phone was hung up. A gunfight?! I couldn’t help but feel worried and frightened as if my heart was being squeezed by a big hand. After a quarter of an hour, we finally got in touch again only to know that the consulate was being attacked. The terrorists broke into the consulate’s waiting room and exchanged gunfire with the Pakistani police. The fierce gun battle caused many casualties of the Pakistani police protecting the location. Fortunately, most of the consular officials were safe hiding in the basement...
Extremely worried about our safety from thousands of miles away, leaders, colleagues, and families from the motherland China got in touch with us the moment the news spread out and paid close attention to the situation. Their concern was strongly reminiscent of the peaceful life in China. But we were aware that being confronted by harsh conditions and safety threats was a part of the routine for our Chinese diplomats in Karachi.
Eventful and struggling initial days in Karachi
Karachi is the capital of the province of Sindh. The Chinese Consulate in Karachi is located in southern Pakistan and provides consular services for the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. It is home to a number of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects in this area, as well as many Chinese-funded enterprises and Chinese citizens. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce and the Consulate General, the business office of the Consulate General in Karachi shoulders important duties in promoting the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, advancing the in-depth development of China-Pakistan economic and trade relations, and safeguarding the lawful rights and interests of Chinese-funded enterprises in the territorial areas. On November 16, 2018, the Consulate General in Karachi held the 2018 Annual Conference on the Safety of Chinese Enterprises in the consular district. The meeting was presided over by Counselor Guo Chunshui of the Business Office. Counsel General Wang Yu and Deputy Counsel Chen Xiaodong also attended the meeting.
In Karachi, the biggest difficulty and challenge facing us is personal safety besides the harsh natural environment. But unexpectedly, the problem that I faced with at first was neither harsh conditions nor safety threats, but the extremely hot weather.
Karachi is torrid for nearly 11 months a year, and the temperature often exceeds 40 °C or even 50 °C in summer. In this heat wave, if you are outdoors, the skin will be almost burnt. Despite the roasting heat, you would never be drenched in sweat, because the sweat also quickly evaporates in the air. Living in Pakistan, I knew that it was very important to choose the right shoes; otherwise, they would be melted by the searing ground and become stuck to it.
Photo: High-temperature weather of 59 ° C
My friends in Beijing sometimes complain about insufficient precipitation, but compared to Karachi, Beijing is blessed by a relative abundance of rain.
I still remember that evening in June 2017 when we were working overtime in the office. One of our colleagues called with excitement, “Come outside, it’s raining in Karachi!” I walked outdoors and saw him dancing with joy in the rain in the small courtyard of the business room. I still remember when he called out to me, "Let’s enjoy the rain."