GILGIT: To better protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through Gilgit-Baltistan, retired army personnel will be hired to provide security to the mega project, government officials said on Saturday.
Moreover, plans for setting up a special police unit to provide security to CPEC projects is also under consideration.
According to officials in the G-B chief minister’s secretariat, a decision on hiring retired army officers to protect CPEC was taken during a meeting between Special Security Division (SSD) Commander Major General Abid Rafique and G-B chief minister Hafeezur Rehman in Islamabad on Saturday.
“Work on this project [of hiring retired officers for CPEC security division] is underway,” Maj Gen Rafique told the chief minister.
The two also reviewed measures already taken by the regional government for providing security to projects under CPEC in the region, trucks travelling on the Karakoram Highway and of the Chinese workers engaged in different development projects in the region.
“Additionally, the establishment of a special police unit is also under consideration,” the Special Security Division commander said.
In this regard, he was of the view that experienced policemen, particularly those who have previously served in the Karakoram Security force in G-B would be preferred for the new police force.
Maj Gen Rafique also acknowledged the role of G-B Scouts for maintaining peace and security.
“Security of CPEC is a big responsibility and we will fulfil it with support from army,” a press release quoted Rehman as saying. Rehman also assured support for the CPEC security division.
The CPEC project between Pakistan and China formally started operations in November last year after hundreds of Chinese trucks loaded with goods rolled into the Sost dry port in G-B.
The region serves as gateway to $46 billion project which consists of around 3,000-kilometre long highways, railways and pipelines which will connect China’s Xinjiang province to the rest of the world through Gwadar port.
A master plan for the expressway connecting Gilgit to the scenic Naltar valley has been prepared by the Pakistan Air Force.
This was stated by Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Asad Lodhi during a meeting with Rehman in Islamabad on Friday.
The Rs3.7billion project had been approved by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently as part of boosting tourism in the region.
“The plan will be shared with the government next week,” Air Marshal Lodhi told Rehman.
Besides hoteling, he added, commercial and parking areas are being given priority in the master plan.
Naltar valley is a popular tourist resort located around 40km from Gilgit. The valley, a famed ski resort, attracts thousands of tourists every year despite the fact that the road leading to the valley is in dilapidated condition.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2017.