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Pak special naval force to guard Gwadar port and CPEC against maritime threats

world Updated: Dec 13, 2016 19:27 IST
Pakistan special force

A Pakistani Naval personnel stands guard near a ship carrying containers at the Gwadar port during the opening ceremony of a pilot trade programme between Pakistan and China. (AFP file photo)

Pakistan has set up a special naval force to protect the sea lanes under the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) linking western China with the Arabian Sea.

The creation of the special force was announced on Tuesday at an International Maritime Conference on CPEC held at Gwadar which houses the deep seaport.

The Dawn reported that a senior naval official said that the new force is called ‘Task Force-88 (TF-88)’ for maritime security of Gwadar port and protection of associated sea lanes against both conventional and non-traditional threats.

The creation of the special maritime force has been necessitated by the operationalisation of CPEC which is expected to lead to a surge in maritime activity at Gwadar -- the nodal point for CPEC -- and the sea lanes. This has in turn increased the maritime threats there.

TF-88 is to comprise ships, fast attack craft, aircraft, drones and surveillance assets.

Additionally, marines would be deployed at sea and around Gwadar for security operations, said a senior navy official.

Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, naval chief Admiral Zakaullah and Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman attended the conference.