ISLAMABAD: The government has deployed 15,000 military personnel, as part of the Special Security Division (SSD) and Maritime Security Force (MSF), to protect projects under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Both forces will work under the interior ministry, in coordination with the provinces, to ensure the safety of locals and foreigners working on CPEC projects.

“The SSD is a force that will provide security to 34 CPEC related projects, while the MSF will safeguard the Gwadar port and other coastal areas of the country,” Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of the Parliamentary Commit­tee on CPEC, told Dawn after a committee meeting in Parliament House on Monday.

He said the SSD had been deployed in six zones from Gwadar to Gilgit-Baltistan, including all four provinces and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK).

“Under its terms of reference, the SSD will be responsible for the security of the area within a 5km radius of CPEC-related projects,” he said.

In addition, the SSD will also patrol different areas of the corridor, especially where road-building projects are under way.

Both the SSD and MSF were formed in view of possible threats to the $48 billion CPEC and the foreign nationals presently engaged in infrastructure and power generation projects being commissioned under its umbrella.

He said the SSD and MSF were raised over the course of a year and that both forces were equipped with state-of-the-art weapons, equipment and vehicles. “Most SSD personnel are serving armymen,” he added.

Responding to a question regarding the concerns raised by provinces regarding an overlap in security duties being performed by the SSD and the provincial police, Senator Sayed said the terms of reference of the SSD were developed in consultation with provincial governments to remove any concerns they might have.

According to a press release, the committee was briefed by senior officers from the ministries of defence, interior and communication. The briefings included information about the formation, jurisdiction, working and challenges for these newly-created security agencies.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2017