ISLAMABAD (ET): The Senate Standing Committee on Interior asked the federal government to constitute a special task force to enhance security for workers engaged in constructing several world-class economic zones in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
The Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2012-15 worth hundreds of billions of dollars will promote G-B, Pakistan’s northernmost territory, as a significant economic zone, for which Islamabad was working with Beijing.
The Senate committee also asked the government for increasing security for the Karakoram Highway, bordering areas with China, and the Wakhan Corridor. China also offers to cooperate with Pakistan to set up proper security near the Xinjiang area. However, the government told the Senate panel that it lacked financial resources to do the needful.
“We must upgrade our security system in G-B, Pakistan’s next economic hub,” Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman Talha Mahmood said.
Meanwhile, G-B Scouts Director General Brig Babar Alauddin has requested for more manpower to confront security challenges to fulfill Pakistan’s hopes of converting Gwadar and G-B into the new economic face of South Asia by 2025.
“Although Karakoram Taskforce, G-B Scouts and Punjab Rangers are delivering, there are serious security threats to Chinese workers and we have to pick up this issue seriously,” he observed during the meeting.
The Senate Committee has also recommended deployment of proper security at Kashgar-Gwadar corridor – a 2,000-kilometre transport link connecting Kashgar in northwest China to the Pakistani port of Gwadar in Balochistan.
The senators also expressed concerns over the poor manpower of G-B Scouts and other civilian law enforcement forces deployed in these areas.
Senate committee chairman Talha Mahmood also advised G-B Scouts to stop smuggling of drugs from India and China, but did not explain how drug dealers were running this notorious business.
Brig Babar informed the committee that majority of criminals involved in the Nanga Parbat tragedy had been arrested, and apprised that the federal government has established more check posts in remote G-B areas.
Senator Najma Hameed surprised fellow parliamentarians when she recommended imposition of taxes on those who smuggled drugs and poppy to China. “If drug smuggling cannot be stopped, some extra taxes on smugglers should be levied,” she remarked to everyone’s surprise.