ISLAMABAD - The military leadership on Thursday reviewed the security measures taken in different parts of the country in general and Karachi in particular, in the wake of spiralling law and order situation in the sprawling metropolis.
The security measures ahead of the general elections were also reported to have been taken up for a detailed discussion in the 158th Corps Commanders Conference held at the General Headquarters. Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani chaired the meeting.
Earlier on Wednesday, Kayani visited Karachi to assess the security situation. His visit coincided with the hearing of a crucial case on the city's law and order situation by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The same day, unidentified miscreants kidnapped and killed two intelligence officials of the Sindh Rangers, a paramilitary force headed by military command, from Lyari locality of Karachi. The entire city remained on a standstill on Wednesday, with shops shut and markets closed after falling to violence for hours till the Muttahida Qaumi Movement withdrew its call for 'peaceful' protest.
Intelligence officials say the standby arrangements were discussed in the commanders' meeting in case targeted crackdowns were to be launched on Karachi on the instructions of the Federal Government or in consequence of a court ruling. "The Supreme Court hears the related case on Karachi law and order. Nobody knows what is going to be the court's decision, but we have to be ready to respond to any situation," he said, and added the standby arrangements were part of the pre-emptive measures.
"The army is constitutionally bound to follow the governments' instructions to act in aid of civil power when called," the official added. In a linked development, Election Commission of Pakistan secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan is reportedly visiting the GHQ on Friday (today) to discuss with the top military brass the security arrangements for the general polls.
According to ECP sources, the secretary is likely to meet Army Chief General Kayani and other senior army officers up to the ranks of corps commanders. Ishtiak Khan would be accompanied by the ECP's Director General (Elections) Syed Sher Afgan, it is further learnt.
A brief statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) sounded to imply that the commanders' moot was a routine event. "The 158th Corps Commanders' Conference was held at General Headquarters today. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani chaired the meeting. Apart from professional military matters, the meeting under took a comprehensive review of internal and external security environment of the country," it said.
Besides the Karachi situation, the security measures in Quetta, the rest of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas were also reviewed in Thursday's meeting of the military commanders.