ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum was Wednesday informed that the government will establish 22 special wings of security forces to provide security to the foreign investors especially to the oil and gas exploration and production companies.

“The total strength of these special wings will be 20,000 and they will be tasked to provide security to the foreign investors in the country,” Additional Secretary Ministry of Interior said while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum here.

The Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources, which met with Senator Mir Israrullah Zehri in the chair discussed provision of security to foreign company operating in oil/gas exploration.

Secretary Interior, Tariq Khan, said that at present all the civil armed forces were engaged in fighting with the miscreants in Federal Administrative Tribal Areas (FATA), Balochistan and Karachi and the Ministry was unable to provide special security to the foreign Exploration and Production (E&P) companies.

He said that after the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment security provision to E&P companies was the responsibility of the provincial government, while Federal government can only assist provinces in emergency situation.

The Committee members staged a walkout of the meeting due to late arrival of the Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, ,adding, that the Minister was not taking the concerns of the panel seriously.

The Standing Committee members flayed the Interior Ministry as the Committee was told by the officials that Rangers and FC could not be spared for any economic related activity as they are heavily occupied in maintaining internal security.

“The Ministry of Interior has never made any commitment with oil/gas E&P companies regarding the provision of security,” Tariq Khan revealed ,adding, that FC has a total strength of 52,000 persons and all the men were engaged in clearing different areas from terrorists.

He said that the government has decided to raise a separate division consisting of six paramilitary wings and eight Army battalions to provided security the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The government is planning to establish 22 wings of security forces to provide security to the investor in the country, he informed.

“We have a demand from WAPDA regarding additional force of GB Scouts for Basha Dam – but we have asked them to finance the raising of two additional wings of GB Scouts,” the Additional Secretary added.

Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi said that “his firm was a partner with a foreign oil/gas exploration company which owns a block but due to non-availability of security his associates were unable to start exploratory activities”.

“I have no trust in the local police of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for providing the security,” he added.

Federal Secretary Petroleum and Natural Resources, Arshad Mirza responded that the oil and gas production and exploration is the top priority of the government and his Ministry was collaborating with the Interior Ministry for making foolproof security arrangements.

He said that due to low production, the government was relying on imported oil and gas.

“We want you to come up with a practical approach in this regard, as the current policy to provide security for CPEC and leave others unattended –is unfair,” said Senator Sardar Muhammad Hassani.

Senator Sardar Azan Khan Musakhel criticised the Interior Ministry officials and said that law and order situation across the country has been created by the establishment only to keep the smaller provinces from becoming prosperous.

Convener Sub-Committee of the Senate on Unaccounted for Gas (UfG), Senator Nisar Muhammad presented the recommendations of the Committee and suggested the gas utilities to control the gas theft by taking appropriate steps.

The Sub-Committee also proposed that the financial burden of the UfG must be taken up by the respective gas utility and it should not put on the gas consumers.