ISLAMABAD -  The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration has alleged that the Officer Commanding (OC) of Rangers’ 19 Wing was receiving orders from his operational chain of command on the occasion of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s second appearance before the accountability court on October 2, which led to a fiasco, The Nation has learnt. 

The Rangers, according to the ICT Administration, were never asked to assume security duty around the court premises but had been asked to carry out patrolling as per the order of the Security Division. The paramilitary force instead assumed the security duty of the court and denied entry of federal ministers and media persons to the court premises which led to an unpleasant situation, the ICT Administration said.

The district administration believed that the OC of the Rangers, on that morning, was taking orders from his high-ups though he was supposed to follow the orders of the Islamabad Chief Commissioner/district administration.

A letter written by Islamabad police SSP (Operations) surfaced soon after the mess at the gate of the accountability court, in which the police officer had asked the Islamabad district magistrate to requisition 200 personnel of Rangers for security duty on the day. However, the district administration said that the district magistrate never forwarded the request and that the Rangers were not requisitioned by the district magistrate for any kind of security of the accountability court.

Though the district administration has pointed the finger at Rangers for the fiasco, the situation is still not clear as to what led to the kerfuffle. The Nation has learnt that on September 25, the SSP (Operations) had also written the same kind of a letter, requesting the district magistrate for deployment of Rangers on the occasion of Nawaz Sharif’s first appearance before the accountability court on September 26. The letter written on September 25 carried almost the same content that was written for the security of October 2. However, according to sources in ICT Administration, this letter was also not forwarded to them.

Interestingly, the SSP, despite his first letter not being entertained, wrote a second letter seeking security on October 2. An official at the district administration who wished not to be named, termed it ‘over-smartness’ on part of the SSP (Operations) as, in case of any untoward situation, he could get an excuse that his request for requisition of Rangers personnel was dismissed and he was not provided additional security by the Rangers on the occasion of Sharif’s appearance for court hearing. 

According to the sources in district administration, a meeting was held in the office of Accountability Court Registrar on September 29 for finalizing security arrangements during Sharif’s appearance before the court on October 2. The meeting decided that a limited number of persons would be accommodated in the courtroom owing to the limitation of space. The security plan of Operations Division and Security Division of ICT, police were issued orders as per the SOP. An official at the district administration who wished not to be named said that the security of inner cordon and court premises was the responsibility of the Security Division and the security of outer cordon was the responsibility of the Operations Division. Two vehicles of Rangers were required to be deployed outside (in the surrounding of court) for patrolling as per order of the Security Division, however, Rangers were not requisitioned by the district magistrate for any kind of security of the accountability court, said the sources.

In the morning, the district magistrate was informed that the OC 19 Wing Rangers has taken over command of the security of the accountability court premises and all the gates.

According to the sources, the district magistrate called commander Rangers Islamabad and OC 19 Wing for confirmation and authenticity of the information received from the SSP (Operations) Islamabad and asked him that media persons, lawyers and a limited number of people including some federal ministers should be allowed inside court premises as per the decision of the ICT Administration. However, the OC Rangers refused to allow the access of any person into the court premises except for Nawaz Sharif and his lawyers. The Rangers’ commander asked the district magistrate to contact their higher operational authorities to communicate the decision. Upon this, the district magistrate contacted the Islamabad Chief Commissioner and requested him to communicate the same to Rangers senior operational command for making the arrangements smooth as per the SOP decided at the meeting with the Registrar accountability court and the SOPs decided by the ICT Administration. When the district magistrate reached the court premises, he conveyed the directions of ICT Administration to the Rangers commander and asked him to allow media persons, lawyers and a limited number of people including the federal ministers into the court premises. The Rangers commander, according to the district administration, stated that he has received orders from his operational chain of command that no one will be allowed inside the court premises except Nawaz Sharif and his lawyers.