The government has decided to expand training facilities at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) in Kakul to create additional space to cater to the needs of the Special Security Division being raised to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
It will be fourth expansion of PMA Kakul and will significantly increase the capacity of the country’s premier military training institute to train officers.
‘CPEC a game changer only if Pakistan tackles security issues’
The financing needs for acquiring additional land and organising civil works expand PMA Kakul were discussed in a meeting held on Thursday at the finance ministry. Pakistan Army Quarter Master General (QMG) Lieutenant-General Javed Mahmood Bukhari apprised Finance Minister Ishaq Dar about the financial requirements.
In the first phase, land is being acquired to expand the facilities, said a finance ministry official. The General Headquarters (GHQ) has taken the responsibility of ensuring security of convoys and the routes of CPEC.
China has offered Pakistan $46 billion in loans to develop infrastructure and build energy projects in return for access to Gwadar port. Under the CPEC Framework Agreement, Kashgar will be linked to Gwadar.
The QMG briefed the finance minister on the development, upgradation and expansion of training facilities of Pakistan Army, an official finance ministry handout said.
Economic corridor: Pakistan, China agree on four-layer security
Pakistan is in the process of raising a roughly 15,000-strong force to protect the corridor. It aims to make the Special Security Division operational within this year. The existing facilities are not sufficient to impart training to the newly inducted forces and required massive expansion, said the officials.
PMA was established at Kakul in October 1947 soon after the creation of Pakistan. On January 25, 1948, the First Pakistan Battalion was instituted. The Indo-Pak War of 1965 necessitated the academy’s expansion. The third expansion came in 1989.
Last month army chief Gen Raheel Sharif visited the headquarters of the newly raised Special Security Division (SSD). He was given a detailed briefing on progress in raising the force and wide-ranging security aspects of CPEC. Gen Raheel reiterated the army's commitment to provide security for CPEC and the work force involved. During the visit, he had termed CPEC a game-changer for Pakistan, which has the potential to transform the lives of people of the country
The finance ministry stated that the QMG also gave a briefing on the occasion about progress with regard to setting up modern terminals at Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing points at Torkham and Chaman. Pakistan is also beefing up security along the Afghan border to consolidate gains of Operation Zarb-e-Azab and curb smuggling. In recent months, the new head of the Frontier Constabulary in Balochistan has taken numerous measures to crack down on smugglers.
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The finance minister stated that the development of these border terminals is an important initiative, which will not only ease travel between the two countries but also give a boost to bilateral trade, by reducing the transit time for the cargo to and from Afghanistan. He said that once completed, these facilities will also be helpful in promoting greater trade and commerce with the Central Asian States. He emphasised on the need for early implementation of the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2016.
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