Pakistan is revamping its security plan for foreigners in an effort to protect guest workers and tourists from terror threats, following the Nanga Parbat tragedy.
Senior officials familiar with the newly proposed ‘security doctrine’ told The Express Tribune on Tuesday that the government has formulated a new task force to protect foreigners working on several projects worth billions of dollars in Gilgit-Baltistan, Sindh, Gwadar, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
“The security plan is being revamped. It [security] has emerged as an urgent concern for foreigners now,” said interior ministry spokesperson Omar Hameed Khan.
The move was recommended by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who insisted that the overall security plan, particularly for foreigners, across the country, be changed.
In his meeting with top officials of law enforcement agencies, Nisar directed them to come up with a revamped security policy.
The Crisis Management Cell (CMC), a subsidiary department of the interior ministry, has been asked to make special security arrangements for over 4,000 Chinese workers who are engaged in several mega projects in Gilgit-Baltistan, Gwadar and Sindh, said a senior official. CMC Director General Tariq Javed Lodhi is coordinating with the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NCTA) to finalise the plan.
On Tuesday, the government transported close to five dozen foreign tourists and workers to the federal capital in special Pakistan Army aircraft, military officials said.
Interior ministry officials said that local scouts were also evacuating porters, guides and other Pakistanis from the area, while local police officers have been asked to provide foolproof security to foreign workers. An advisory has also been issued to keep the highest authorities in the loop during the whole process, they said.
The CMC has also directed private tour operators to keep the ministry in the loop regarding security issues.
A majority of foreign tourists in the country are either from Ukraine, Lithuania, Nepal, China, Poland or Russia, according to CMC officials. They added that interior ministry would issue directions to private tour operators on the new security doctrine as well as fresh visa policy for tourists. Security clearance will be necessary for tourists before receiving permits for climbing expeditions in the northern region.
Meanwhile, interior ministry officials said that they are trying to nab militants who are reportedly associated with Junood ul-Hifsa, a new faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
A local, Javaid from Timargarah told The Express Tribune that 300 to 400 foreign tourists have left for Karachi and Islamabad after the Nanga Parbat tragedy and now it is feared that very few tourists would come to Gilgit-Baltistan during the summer.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2013.
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