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Pakistan Navy's special 'Task Force-88' (TF-88) was established Tuesday for maritime security of Gwadar port and protection of associated sea lanes against both conventional and non-traditional threats.

An International Maritime Conference on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was held at Gwadar today to commission the TF-88 force.

The creation of the special maritime force has been necessitated by the operationalisation of CPEC, which is expected to lead to a surge in maritime activity at Gwadar — the nodal point for CPEC — and the sea lanes. This has in turn increased the maritime susceptibilities there.

TF-88 is to comprise ships, Fast Attack Craft, aircraft, drones (unmanned aerial vehicles), and surveillance assets. Additio­nally, marines would be deployed at sea and around Gwadar for security operations, according to a senior Navy official.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zakaullah and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Zubair Hayat, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri attended the conference.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was to attend the conference but his flight from Lahore was delayed due to dense fog, Admiral Zakaullah said.