Islamabad: Pakistan Navy has raised a special marine battalion to provide security to Chinese engineers and workers at the strategic Gwadar Port being developed by China under the USD 46 billion economic corridor project that will give the Communist giant access to the Arabian Sea.
The ambitious 3,000-kilometre China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project was launched last year to link western China to southern Pakistan through a network of roads, railways and pipelines.
Under this, oil and gas would be sent from Gwadar Port to Kashgar city in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, using the shortest route for oil imports from the Middle East.
A spokesman of Pakistan Navy told media that security of Chinese and the CPEC was focus of the newly-raised force. "Pakistan Navy has increased all-round surveillance at Gwadar Port with the commencement of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project," he said. He said a special Marine Battalion had been raised to provide security to Chinese engineers and experts visiting the strategic Gwadar port.
He said the Gwadar Port is the 'backbone' of the CPEC and the Pakistan Navy was making strenuous efforts for ensuring comprehensive security for foreigners as well as local people.
The CPEC terminates at Gwadar port on the mouth of the Arabian Sea. Pakistan had handed over the operational control of the port to the Chinese.
Beijing has said the Gwadar port is crucial to its economic interests as it gives western China access to the Arabian Sea to access oil supplies from the Gulf.
Gwadar Port is situated at the apex of the Arabian Sea and the mouth of the Persian Gulf, and only about 400 km away from the Strait of Hormuz, a key global oil supply route.
Pakistan had assured China that it would raise special force for the protection of the Chinese nationals working in the restive Baluchistan province and elsewhere along the CPEC.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last month inaugurated the western corridor of the CPEC. An official agreement on the corridor was signed between the two countries in May this year during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan.
Apart from the Marine Battalion, Pakistan army is also working to set up additional special force to provide security to the CPEC and workers and experts from China.