The Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) has highlighted news of Indian involvement to hamper the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. Briefing diplomats in Islamabad the Director General of the organization, Maj Gen. Muhammad Afzal a serving military general, said that a special security division has been raised by the army to protect the project from Indian aggression, adding that another division will be raised to ensure foolproof security to Chinese and local engineers engaged in execution of the project.

When the divide between the civilian leadership and the army is discussed, it is clear that the army functions effectively and fills the gaps in all arenas where the civilian leadership fails time and time again. The FWO is a prime example to support this argument. The FWO is an active-duty, major science and technology command of the Pakistan Army. Commissioned and established in 1966, the FWO is an administrative branch of the Pakistan Army that includes active duty officers and civilian scientists and engineers. Since its establishment it has been credited with the construction of bridges, roads- the famed Karakoram Highway- tunnels, airfields and dams in Pakistan, on the orders of the civilian government of Pakistan.

Although we appreciate the proactive role that the army is playing to ensure the smooth running of all CPEC related activities, it is saddening that state institutions are not strengthened, improved upon or empowered to do their job. Additionally, we are also bound to believe whatever the military mechanism says, because after all, we are a security states. We can neither question the threat of the enemy, nor question the motives of the FWO in keeping development and construction in its own hands. If the army is responsible for all construction, protection and developing far-reaching areas, then what is the point of having provincial assemblies and a hundred committees who have no authority or the capacity to function in their areas? State institutions must be strengthened for foreign investors to take Pakistan seriously and it is about time the civilian government does too.

India will always be our foremost nemesis, always at our door, but civilian institutional development and agencies must not be allowed to become victims to the security dilemma. In sixty-eight years, we should have found a solution, yet we continue to be held hostage by our situation.