ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif said on Saturday that army was ready to pay any cost for making China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a reality.

He said this while visiting Panjgur and Turbat for inspecting the road network being built by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) as part of the CPEC project.

The FWO is constructing a stretch of 870km to connect Gwadar Port with Indus Highway at Chaman. The road would become part of the western alignment of the CPEC. About 502km of the road has already been laid.

So far, the FWO has lost 16 of its workers – six military personnel and 10 civilians – in 136 security incidents since the start of the work on the road in March 2014.

“The army chief appreciated FWO for amazing pace of construction and quality of work. He paid tributes to FWO men for sacrificing lives and limbs for this national project,” military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa, who accompanied Gen Sharif on the visit, said.

Gen Sharif recalled India’s campaign against the CPEC project and vowed to use all means to get it completed.

“CPEC and Gwadar Port will be built and developed as one of the most strategic deep sea ports in the region at all costs,” the general said.

He underscored the need for peace in Balochistan for the completion of the project.

Unrest has been a major source of concern for the project. The military soon after the inauguration of the project during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Islamabad had announced setting up a 10,000-strong special force for protecting the projects to be carried out under the CPEC and the Chinese workers associated with them.

The Chinese have been seriously following the security situation in the province. Chinese Vice-Minister for Security Dong Haizhou visited Pakistan in June for security-related briefings.

During his visit to Balochistan, Gen Sharif said the overall security situation in the province had noticeably improved. He commended the Frontier Corps and police for their “successful operations against some foreign funded terrorists” involved in disruptive activities in the province.

The army chief, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations, in a meeting with locals thanked them for their support for the development projects and assured them that they would benefit from them.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2015

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