LAHORE - Lahore police have evolved a comprehensive security strategy to cope with the possible showdown on Sunday as opposition parties including Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) are taking out protest rallies against the alleged rigging in general elections 2013.
A police spokesman said on Saturday that more than 3000 anti-riot police would be deployed to ensure foolproof security for the participants of the public meeting to be held at Nasir Bagh. Heavy police contingents are also deployed at Neela Gunbad Chowk, GPO crossing, Regal Chowk, and Faisal Chowk at the Mall road. Four additional police reserves would remain on-call at the Town Hall to respond quickly in case of any untoward happening. At least 70 CCTV cameras would be installed at 50 points at the Mall to monitor the activities of the protesters.
The rally participants would have to pass through security checks to reach procession site as walkthrough gates are installed at the entry points where cops equipped with metal detectors are also deployed to scan the public.
A top police officer told this reporter on the condition of anonymity that there would be zero-tolerance for troublemakers and no one would be allowed to create unrest in the name of protests.
“More than 150 personnel of the Quick Response Force (QRF) in plainclothes will be deployed at the site of the public meeting to keep a check on the activities of the miscreants,” a police officer said.
Special units of riot police to be equipped with tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, riot shields, and riot helmets would also remain on-guard at different points at the Mall road to keep the things under control.
“This is our responsibility to protect public property. Those who tried to create unrest or attempted to damage public property will be dealt with iron hands of law,” Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Chaudhry Shafique Ahmed told reporters on Saturday. Accompanied by DIG (Operations) Ran Abdul Jabbar, the Lahore police chief visited Nasir Bagh and the Mall road to review security plan. “We will maintain public order at all costs. The police are put ion their toes to control the crowds,” the top police officer said while responding to a questioner.
It was also learnt that Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Khan Baig has issued ‘special instructions’ to the Lahore and Rawalpindi police to tackle the political leaders and activists. Sources in the Central Police Office (CPO) said that the Punjab police chief also shared the security plan with the top leadership of the PML-N before finalizing the overall security strategy. “The government has advised the police to observe maximum restraint but respond aggressively if the protesters would try to take the law into their hands,” an official told this reporter on the condition of anonymity.
Citing intelligence reports, the Punjab government on Friday revealed that the militants belonging to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) could carry out terror assault to target the rally of Maulana Tahir ul Qadri in Lahore.
The provincial government has already enforced emergency in all the hospitals of the province for Sunday. The Punjab emergency service (Rescue-1122) and other rescue agencies have also been put on high-alert to cope with any unexpected situation.
Meanwhile, heavy police contingents are on guard around the shopping malls, important installations, buildings, fruit markers, bus stands, and other public places to keep a vigilant eye on the activities of the miscreants.