LAHORE - Amid serious threats of possible retaliatory attacks by militants, a fresh high-alert has been sounded across the country after the killing of TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike on Friday.
In addition to the intelligence agencies, the security and paramilitary forces are put on high alert to fend off revenge attacks. “Obviously, intelligence input hints the Taliban could launch reprisal assaults in a desperate attempt to target key government installations and security forces to avenge Mehsud’s death,” a senior official of the Interior Ministry told this reporter by phone on Saturday.
The governments in all the four provinces are strictly directed to intensify the security of religious scholars, leading politicians and top officials because of the anticipated backlash by TTP elements. An official of the Punjab Home Department said the law-enforcing agencies had been put on high alert across the province and massive search operations were also underway to check the movement of suspected persons.
“Heavy contingents of police and paratroopers are put on guard around the jails, airports, police headquarters and important government installations to ward off any possible terror assault. The police in the big cities of the province, particularly in Lahore, stepped up snap checking of the vehicles at the entry and exit points.
The general public has been appealed to quickly report to the police and law enforcing agencies in case they notice abnormal behaviour of strangers.
Defence and security experts say killing of the TTP leader in the US drone strike has also dimmed the hopes of expected peace talks between the government and TTP militants. At this stage, the chances of negotiations are low and, to some extent, seem unlikely, an official said, adding the drone strike had further complicated the situation. “The Pakistani problems can only be solved by the country’s leadership. They also have the political will and firm resolve to fight the terrorists. Our leaders must protect the interests of the country and shed away all external pressures with courage,” the official suggested.
Recently, the government made serious efforts to convince TTP militants to engage in peaceful dialogue, but because of division in the militants’ ranks, they continued terror attacks by targeting civilians and security personnel in different parts of the country. The government and the armed forces are on the same page as regards employment of counterterrorism methodology. Both are committed to find a peaceful way out to eliminate the menace of terrorism, political pundits say.
Although the government’s go-slow policy on terrorism is causing frustration, there is a need for all political parties to support the government in their plans to deal with terrorism, they added. The American CIA’s drone programme, targeting militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, has long been accused of causing civilian casualties. The United Nations concerns over legitimacy of drone strikes specifically increased after a group of nations, including Russia, China and Pakistan, requested action against the use of drone strikes.
Staff Reporter from Peshawar adds: Following the killing of banned TTP Chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike in North Waziristan Agency, security was put on high alert in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to prevent any possible terror acts in the province.
Strict identity checks are being ensured in red zone and its adjoining areas, including US consulate in Peshawar, governor house, chief minister house, provincial assembly, high court, local courts and other important places.
More law enforcement personnel were deployed at exit and entry points of the province and further stepped up checking at all security pickets besides thorough monitoring on all exits and entry points.
Moreover, search of passers-by were underway in Peshawar city. There was also a random snap checking being conducted in Peshawar. Police patrolling was also increased in Peshawar in addition to the monitoring of all routes leading to the provincial capital.