PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has approved the formation of 4,200-strong China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Security Force to protect Chinese investment and its nationals working on the multibillion dollar CPEC project across the province at the cost of Rs1.2 billion.

Officials in the provincial home and tribal affairs department told Dawn that the force would be tasked with safeguarding the CPEC routes and projects, Chinese investment and Chinese nationals working on the projects in the province.

They said the home department and police had completed consultation on the force’s formation and salient features.

“The KP government will purchase equipment, weapons, ammunitions and vehicles. Together with the salaries of the force’s personnel, all these purchases are likely to cost the provincial government Rs1.2 billion annually,” an official said.

Personnel’s salary, purchases for corridor security force to cost Rs1.2 billion every year

The official said the force would consist of around 4,200 security personnel at initial stage and that they would be drawn from the police, various formations of security forces, and while some would be hired on contractual basis.

He said the force would be deployed in all those areas of the province, where the CPEC projects were to be executed.

The official said the proposed force would have its own chain of command, while its strength was likely to swell with the passage of time.

He said a separate cell would also be set up for the daily monitoring of the security of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Security projects, international investors and investment-related activities across the province.

Another source said the force was being set up at the request of the federal government, which recently asked the province to raise a special force to provide security to the CPEC-related projects and investment on its soil.

He said the federal government had conveyed to the KP government that Punjab and Balochistan governments had already formed security bodies to protect Chinese investment and personnel.

The source said the Punjab government had set up the Special Protection Unit tasked with ensuring the security of CPEC-related infrastructure and Chinese nationals working on investment projects.

He said earlier, two proposals regarding the structure and number of the new force were under consideration.

The source said the police wanted the creation of a new force consisting of over 4,000 personnel.

He said KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak didn’t agree to over 4,000 hirings for the proposed force and directed the departments to provide around 2,600 personnel from the existing security forces, while the rest would be hired on contractual basis.

The source said the finance department had agreed to release the funds required for the formation of the force during the next fiscal.

On Tuesday, CM Pervez Khattak had told a gathering of Malaysian investors led by former prime minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi at the CM House that his government had decided to set up a special security force to protect all industrial zones across the province.

The CM had also said the personnel of the proposed force had already been identified, while directions had been given for their induction.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2017