RAWALPINDI: A security audit by the Punjab home department’s directorate of monitoring has found faults in the security arrangements for a China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) hydropower project.

According to sources, a team from the directorate visited the project at the end of October to inspect security arrangements. They were surprised to find that a subedar was looking after the performance of the Special Protection Unit (SPU), a specialised police unit established to provide security to foreigners and their projects in Punjab.

No senior police officer of deputy superintendent of police (DSP) rank or above has been posted at the project in the last six months, the audit report said.

In addition, 17 out of the 90 CCTV cameras installed at the project were out of order. The repairs and maintenance agreement with the company concerned has expired.

The directorate also found that the 100 facial recognition cameras installed at points of entry and exit have not been connected to the CCTV control room. A few searchlights on fences and boundary walls are out of order, and some patches of the fence and razor fire are broken and need to be repaired.

The report also stated that an “anti-air defence mechanism does not exist to counter the air strike” at the project.

The report said that the verification and vetting of local employees by the police’s Special Branch is an extraordinarily lengthy process. There are more than 3,500 locals working at the project site, around half of them without security clearance.

The team also said that the use of Android smartphones by locals could be a risk and security threat.

The audit also found that the unplanned movement of Chinese experts working on the project at night and during the day created problems for security staff. Foreigners have been directed to inform security staff before leaving the site and to avoid leaving the area at night.

The directorate suggested that the concerned authorities address all the gaps in security in collaboration with the district intelligence committee as soon as possible and submit a detailed report.

The army, Rangers, SPU and district police have been deployed at the project for its security.

Following the report, the regional police officer told Rawalpindi Saddar Division Superintendent of Police (SP) Mazhar Iqbal to look into security issues personally, audit the project’s security anew and submit a comprehensive report to him as soon as possible so that it can be sent to the home department.

But when SP Iqbal was contacted and asked about the gaps found in the security audit, he said: “I have no knowledge of the security issues of the power project.”

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019