LAHORE - Learning from the bitter experience of Model Town tragedy, Punjab police this time adopted a wise strategy to handle the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) workers and gave freehand to supporters and leaders of PAT when Dr Tahirul Qadri landed in Lahore on Monday.
“At least 15,000 policemen were on-guard in different parts of the Punjab capital to ensure foolproof security during the movement of PAT chief in Lahore,” a senior police officer told The Nation. He further said that hundreds of plainclothesmen were also deployed in the sensitive areas to keep a check on the activities of the miscreants. From Allama Iqbal international airport, Dr Qadri traveled to Jinnah Hospital by road to enquire after the injured PAT workers. Then he went to Minhaj-ul-Quran Secretariat in Model Town on Monday evening amid tight security.
The Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera was himself monitoring and supervising the entire security situation minute-by-minute from the central police office (CPO). Police sources revealed that the Lahore and Rawalpindi police were strictly ordered by the IGP not to retaliate even if they are attacked by the protesters. Instead of pushing off the protesters with sheer force, they were somewhat allowed to be on move so that any massive clash could be avoided.
Police neither arrested PAT workers nor halted their movement. The policemen deployed on security duties were asked to keep at bay and observe maximum restraint.
Highly-placed sources said that Punjab IGP Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera immediately intervened when the PAT workers confronted with the policemen in the twin cities in a bid to reach Islamabad airport to welcome Qadri. “The police were ordered to retreat from the point of duty and let the PAT workers move towards the airport. Police were ordered to observe maximum restraint,” an official said. A day earlier, the police officers deployed on the routes of PAT chief were given special instructions by the provincial police chief. The Punjab IGP himself approved the comprehensive security plan in a high-level meeting before deploying the police contingents on security duties. The police had to seal off all the entry and exit points of Lahore, where cops continued strict snap-checking against suspected elements. The police patrolling was also intensified in the sensitive and most sensitive localities.
As many as 10,000 police personnel were deployed in the twin cities to keep things under control. Police had also alerted Minhaj-ul-Quran’s local leadership about the security risk in the light intelligence inputs. Pakistan Rangers personnel also assisted the local administration during the security operations at the airports.
Meanwhile, according to a press statement, Punjab Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif lauded the police force for ensuring best security arrangements on the arrival of PAT chief despite serious security threats.