Hong Kong police on high alert as Pakistan prime minister visits city after Beijing forum

But officials say city’s overall threat level is ‘moderate’ despite brewing protests

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 8:25pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 10:56pm

Hong Kong police will be put on high alert as the prime minister of Pakistan arrives in the city on Tuesday for an official three-day visit.

Nawaz Sharif is expected to land shortly after noon Tuesday after concluding his visit to Beijing for the high-profile, trade-focused Belt and Road Forum.

He is the third leader of an Asian country to visit the city in the past three weeks, after Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

A rekindled China-Pakistan love affair

Sharif is expected to call on Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying at Government House on Wednesday morning. The two leaders are expected to discuss China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” and cultural cooperation.

The prime minister is also expected to attend a forum on Pakistan investment in the initiative in Admiralty later that day.

Police officials declined to discuss their security plan for Sharif.

But it was understood counterterrorism officers would be out in force as officials had rated the threat level of the visit as “fairly high”.

“Terrorism in Pakistan has become a major phenomenon in recent years,” a police source said. “We have to take this into account.”

Terrorism in Pakistan has become a major phenomenon in recent years. We have to take this into account
police source

But police advised the overall threat level for Hong Kong remained “moderate”.

In Pakistan, Sharif has been embroiled in controversy after the country’s top court earlier this month set up a high-level investigation to examine corruption charges against him and his sons. The allegations stemmed from revelations in the Panama Papers last year.

Sharif and his relatives have denied wrongdoing.

An online petition is being organised by Hong Kong’s Pakistani community to protest the visit. Police said they had received applications to stage protests during the visit from three locally based Pakistani groups. Some 100 people were expected for each protest. Designated protest zones were to be set up.

According to the 2011 population census, there were about 18,000 Pakistanis in the city.

Official figures also showed that, as of the end of March last year, there were 11,201 asylum seekers pending screening in Hong Kong – of whom some 18 per cent were from Pakistan.