Besides, Pakistan has raised three independent infantry Brigades and two additional artillery regiments to protect the highway, security agencies have told New Delhi. A Brigade consists of least three regiments, each with about a 1,000 soldiers.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC starts from the restive Pakistani province of Balochistan, runs along the Makaran Coast turning north to connect Lahore and Islamabad, passes through Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and then runs into the Karakoram Highway, ending at Kashgar in the Xinjiang region of China.
Although China’s People’s Liberation Army or PLA will be positioned to protect the highway, its presence in Pakistan is a cause of concern for India. New Delhi has earlier objected to the presence to Chinese troops in the Gilgit-Baltistan area and a substantial portion of the additional forces being raised in Pakistan and the Chinese PLA are likely to be deployed in that area of PoK.
“We are closely watching these developments,” a top government official told NDTV, adding, “We have a fair idea of the number of Chinese troops that are likely to be positioned in Pakistan.”
There are indications that Pakistan is seriously attempting to annex this region into a fifth province of Pakistan, government sources said.
Pakistan’s moves to annex Gilgit-Baltistan have led to massive protest in the region and brutal crackdowns on the local population.
The first phase of the CPEC is likely to be functional by December 2016 and it is expected to be completely ready in three years, giving China direct access to the Indian Ocean and beyond.
The corridor is likely to be used, among other things, to transport fuel and petroleum products from the Gulf region into China. Its will shorten the route for China’s energy imports from the Middle East by about 12,000 km.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed to build the highway and committed a whopping US dollars 46 billion for the project, during his visit to Pakistan last April.