Pakistan has one of the most important geopolitical and strategic locations in South Asia. On its western borders, there is a war-torn Afghanistan and Iran, who is an essential player in the Middle East. In the North, we have China and Russia, which are one of the world’s most influential countries and on our Eastern border, we have India which is a rising economy and has been our arch rival since the beginning. In the South, there is the Arabian Sea, shared by Iran, other Gulf countries with the presence of the US fleet, and is one of the most important routes for oil trade across the globe. Further, Pakistan is strategically located between the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca.Pakistan is placed right in the middle of crucial world players, which is why China Pakistan Economic Corridor is of utmost importance for Pakistan, China, and the region. This also exposes Pakistan and CPEC project to several internal and external threats. Among these threats, one related to security is the most important because one major incident can halt the project for a long time. Pakistan has been fighting the war against terrorism from past fifteen years and especially last two years there have been enormous successes for Pakistan in context of that war resulting in a drastic decrement in terrorist activities across the country.Internally Pakistan is facing severe threats from nationalists and Taliban, especially in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Balochistan is a critical stakeholder when it comes to the successful execution of the CPEC. Different separatist groups such as the Baloch Liberation Army and Baloch Liberation front have been playing an active role in destabilizing the region since the Musharraf era. Abductions of Chinese Engineers and staff members have halted the development process several times in the past years. Similarly, the logistics convoys have also been targeted to cease the movement of cargo several times. The second internal threat which Pakistan is facing is from the Taliban. They were involved in different incidents of suicide bombings throughout the country, which has an impact on the overall security situation of the country and international investors become reluctant to invest in Pakistan.Externally, Pakistan has always faced threats from India. But in light of recent terror incidents in India and Iran, Pakistan is facing criticism from both the countries. These threats may harm Pakistan and CPEC indirectly as India and Iran may try to isolate Pakistan internationally. Even a threat to retaliate is enough for foreign investors to lose their morale. There is yet another dimension to our security threats which interconnects the external and internal threats. Pakistani security agencies have found evidence of foreign powers’ involvement behind the destabilization of Pakistan internally via direct funding of the separatist groups in Balochistan and some Taliban groups as well.Consequences of these security risks do not stop here. In the future, when CPEC is complete and operationalized, a single incident in any of the nodes or port can finish the whole process for good. Apart from that bridges are vulnerable as it takes a long time to reconstruct a bridge, and due to the stoppage of supply from one on the routes, it may result in the increment of the lead time throughout the chain. Similarly, another bare vulnerability which we have is at our ports; this could be the dry port or Gwadar or Karachi’s Sea ports. Any terrorist activity there can jeopardize the whole operation throughout. Recovery from which would not be an easy task.There are several ways in which Pakistan can work to reduce these risks on its end. And it is vital to mitigate them before the completion of CPEC because any sabotage activity could destroy the whole project, once completed. The government should use a three-dimensional strategy in this regard which is military, political and developmental.Regarded as the game changer in the region, not only Pakistan and China, but the whole region will flourish with development and prosperity due to the CPEC. To make it a success it is crucial for Pakistan to address the security issues prevailing in the country as soon as possible and take appropriate measures as mentioned above to eradicate themInvolvement of Pakistani armed forces is most critical in this aspect. The government has already announced that a special force of 10,000 men will be created only to safeguard the CPEC routes and its vital installations. Apart from that, another positive step has been taken to enhance Naval fleet presence in the Gwadar port. Military operations against the rogue elements are already underway. Further, Pakistan needs to strengthen its intelligence sharing internally within the country and also with the other countries, especially the neighbouring ones.Pakistan should also work in close coordination with China and allow their military presence in the region as well, especially naval presence. As China is a global power, merely the presence of their fleet may caution the enemies across borders.Secondly, Pakistan should start negotiations with the rebels. The situation in Balochistan is pretty much diffused already. Still, it is imperative to listen to their rightful concerns and allow them big stakes in this project. The government should devise a way to bring these elements to be a part of CPEC and provide the guarantees for their stakes.In the context of the Taliban, recent development involving talks between Taliban, United States, Russia, and Pakistan have been a welcoming development. These talks should further continue till the consented solution of the problem. Additionally, the inclusion of the Taliban’s elements in Pakistan into the national stream should be made possible.Further, talks with India and Iran are of significance if Pakistan wants CPEC to be fully secure and prosperous. Pakistan should involve Iran and India to join Pakistan in CPEC and must provide them stakes in this project as well. In addition to this, there should be an active intelligence sharing mechanism based on trust and transparency between Pakistan, and both the countries. This active intelligence sharing will allow security agencies on all the sides of the borders to comprehend any terrorist activity before it happens.Thirdly, the government must work swiftly towards the construction of all three routes of CPEC. Currently, there is only one route, as mentioned any terrorist activity at any node could hinder the supply altogether. So, additional two routes will provide alternative options, to absorb any loss. Further, development of three routes will bring the areas of Western Pakistan at par with the Eastern parts, which will lead to the construction of the whole infrastructure such as dry ports, hotels, petrol pumps, docking areas, etc. which will consequently uplift these areas economically. In this way, the concerns of people living in the western parts of Pakistan may be addressed and may help to bring the separatist elements in the mainstream.Regarded as the game changer in the region, not only Pakistan and China, but the whole region will flourish with development and prosperity due to the CPEC. To make it a success it is crucial for Pakistan to address the security issues prevailing in the country as soon as possible and take appropriate measures as mentioned above to eradicate them.The writer is from Bahria University, IslamabadPublished in Daily Times, February 26th 2019.