LAHORE – Setting aside all the directives of the Chief Minister and provincial police chief, a batch of 100 Elite Force personnel has been asked to join the VVIP Protection Course at Bedian Training School on Saturday.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and IG Javed Iqbal have in the recent past reiterated on many occasions that the Elite Force would only be utilised for combating terrorism instead of deputing the personnel in squads to guard the VVIPs.

During a special briefing, IG Javed Iqbal had categorically claimed that the Elite Force personnel would fight side by side with the ordinary police to combat terrorism and round up heinous criminals. “We are unable to establish a solid opinion about the recent throwback step of the IG and when we contacted the Police Headquarters to learn about the move, the cagey officers avoided responding properly,” a senior Elite Force officer told this reporter. He, however, said first batch has joined the month-long course, adding that the second batch would join after the first completed the course.

Meanwhile, newspaper reports have suggested that the Punjab government has a plan to purchase from the European Union more costly vehicles for the security of VVIPs, contrary to its claim of saving public funds through an austerity drive. The vehicles would be purchased without opening a tender as desired by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

The provincial Finance Department has placed the money at the disposal of the provincial police chief for executing the task on priority.

The Punjab police already have vehicles for the security of VVIPs. The new vehicles would have sophisticated systems capable of blocking most cellular, satellite, VHF/UHF and Wi-Fi frequencies. The Finance Department has also recommended the requisite process of open tendering to invite bids.

The police department also received a directive from the chief minister that the vehicles would be purchased through Pakistan Air Force as a single source supplier. Of the three vehicles, one would be assigned to the president/prime minister, the second to the chief justice of Pakistan and the third to the chief minister, though the chief minister is not a VVIP according to the blue book of protocol.