Islamabad: Pakistan’s army will raise another division-size special force to protect Chinese nationals and projects under the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), military spokesman Major-General Asif Gafoor has said.
The announcement comes days after the brazen terror attack on a luxury hotel in Balochistan.
Describing the US$50 billion (Dh183 billion) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a living example of the deep-rooted friendship between Pakistan and China, Major-General Gafoor, Director-General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), said the army was fully determined to ensure the security of the project.
Addressing Chinese journalists in Rawalpindi on Saturday, Gafoor said Pakistan military had raised a whole division-size force to protect the project and they were planning to deploy another division for this purpose.
Earlier reports said a Special Security Division (SSD) comprising 9,000 Pakistan Army soldiers and 6,000 para-military forces personnel has been set up for the security of the CPEC project and Chinese nationals working on it.
Gafoor said Pakistan faced a very challenging war against terrorism during the last two decades, and now the security situation was under control.
Talking about the role of CPEC in the country, he said the economic prosperity brought about by the mega projects will defeat the motives of terrorists as, with the success of project, more employment and business opportunities will be unlocked, and people’s livelihoods will improve, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
He said the security situation in Balochistan had improved since the launch of the CPEC and now there was better infrastructure.
As many Chinese projects are underway, he said, the security, development and investment situation will improve significantly.
The army spokesman’s comments come days after militants attacked the Pearl Continental luxury hotel in the port city of Gwadar in the restive Balochistan province, killing at least eight people, including four civilians and a Pakistan Navy soldier.
The attack was claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army.
The group was also involved in the attack at the Chinese consulate in Karachi last year.
Gafoor said: “Today’s Gwadar is not what it used to be two years ago and in future it will be on par with the ports of developed countries”.
Gwadar port is one of the focal points of CPEC, with many Chinese workers, as well as Pakistanis from other provinces, working at the port.
China is investing heavily in Balochistan under CPEC.
Launched in 2015, CPEC is a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking China’s resource-rich Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.
Highlighting opportunities in Pakistan, Gafoor said the country was doing its best to create an environment where investors could come and carry out their business in peace, as the security situation had greatly improved.
“Though there are a few sporadic terrorist incidents, investors should not be discouraged,” he added.