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Pak raises new force to secure its nuke weapons

April 19, 2012 21:21 IST

Pakistan has raised a 20,000 strong force to provide foolproof security to its nuclear weapons and strategic assets, the military said in Islamabad on Thursday.

A batch of 900 soldiers of the new "Security Force" of the Strategic Plans Division, which is responsible for managing the country's nuclear arsenal, graduated from the Baloch and Frontier Force Regimental Centres at the garrison town of Abbotabad on Thursday, the military said in a statement.

"With the induction of these newly trained soldiers, the strength of the SPD Security Force touches a figure of 20,000," the statement said.

The Security Force has been raised against the backdrop of concerns expressed by politicians about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal being targeted by the US in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of extremists.

The Pakistani military has dismissed such concerns, saying it has multi-layered foolproof measures in place to protect its strategic assets.

The statement said the SPD had undertaken a "comprehensive plan to significantly augment the capacity of its Security Force to ensure foolproof security of strategic assets".

It further said four batches of the Security Force had been trained at the Baloch and Frontier Force Regimental Centres while a batch of the "Special Response Force" was trained at the newly established SPD Training Academy.

Maj Gen Muhammad Tahir, the Director General of Security for the SPD, was the chief guest at the passing-out ceremony for the 900 soldiers on Thursday.

He appreciated the "high standards of training achieved and highlighted the responsibilities and challenges ahead", the statement said without giving details.

The passing-out parade of the personnel of the new Special Response Force was held on April 2. The Special Response Force will be part of the SPD's Security Force.

The Pakistani military has been bolstering the strength of the SPD and its Security Force since last year.

The military had earlier announced it would induct an additional 8,000 personnel in the SPD to deter "all types of threats" to the country's nuclear weapons and materials.

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