LAHORE - Police have mounted one of the biggest security operations in Lahore for the next week’s mega cricket matches to be played between Pakistan and World-XI at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Security has been heightened across the metropolis amid Taliban threats. Hundreds of paramilitary troops will also join hands with the provincial law enforcing agency to ensure best security arrangements for the rare event. 

Police commandoes, patrolling squads, and anti-riot units will also remain on-guard on important roads and around the stadium. A goon number of plainclothesmen will also deployed at various points to keep a vigilant eye on the activities of the suspected persons.

Capital city police officer Muhammad Amin Wains has approved the security plan with massive deployment of force all across the provincial metropolis. The police chief Friday took a round of the city and reviewed the security arrangements for the visiting players.  Wains last week chaired several meetings at the Lahore police headquarters to discuss and finalise the security strategy. The police chief directed the field officers to follow the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) with regard to the security plan.

The visiting players will be enjoying the status of “state guests” in the country, officials said. Dozens of police companies will work in two-shifts to guard stadium, hotel, and the travel route of the players.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation on Friday, Lahore’s SSP Rana Ayaz Saleem said the players will be given six-layer security at the stadium and the hotel during their stay.

“More than 1000 police commandoes will be deployed around the hotel with extraordinary police patrolling in the entire locality. Special teams of Nadra (the national database and registration authority) will assist police during security checking,” the officer said.

The paramilitary troops, intelligence operatives, and foot constables are also engaged in the security operations. Also, police commandoes and snipers will be deployed on the route during the movement of the players from the hotel to the stadium.

“This will be a joint (security) operation since Pakistan Rangers, and security and intelligence agencies are part of our team. We are working together to make the event a success,” says Saleem who leads the major police operations in Lahore.

On the other hand, city police have intensified security sweep in Lahore ahead of mega series. Hundreds of police are taking part in the search operations launched in the surrounding areas of the stadium and the hotel.

During the latest security sweep, officers were seen using biometric machines to verify the particulars of individuals. Police are searching hotels, inns, and different residential areas to hunt down suspected elements. At least three helicopters will continue hovering over the sky for aerial surveillance during the matches and police will continue patrolling on gun-fitted vehicles on all the roads which lead to the stadium.

According to SSP Saleem, a record number of police will guard the route while aerial surveillance will be ensured with the help of helicopters. The security situation will be monitored with the help of hundreds of CCTV cameras installed on the route.

“We will put in a place a proper system of close monitoring. We are taking multiple steps to ensure smooth and safe passage for the motorcades of the cricket players (from hotel to stadium and back),” the SSP said.

The police will also provide complete security cover to the cricket fans. “They (spectators) will be given shuttle-service and they will be allowed to enter the stadium after thorough searches at four different points,” the officer said.

On the directions of the city police chief the policemen would be provided water bottles and food at their duty points. Police and other security officials are expecting huge rush of cricket fans in Lahore since tickets for the mega matches are being sold like hot cakes.