LAHORE - A state of high alert has been sounded across the Punjab province amid massive deployment of police and Quick Response Force (QRF) around key installations and important locations.

The provincial government is yet to hand over the security of major Punjab cities to the Pakistan Army. However, according to sources, the platoons of military commandoes are requested to remain on standby. Primarily, the police and QRF commandoes are put on their toes to ensure foolproof security in the major cities.

“Pakistan Rangers and army troops will remain on call to assist the civil administration in case of any untoward happening in Punjab,” an official told TheNation on Monday.

Security has been tightened across the province particularly in Lahore after the Pak Army operation in North Waziristan. A day earlier, security forces launched the long-awaited military sweep in the insurgency-infested North Waziristan tribal belt to flush out aliens from the Pakistani soil.

The federal government sent troops to the north-west bordering region to dismantle militants’ strongholds a week after the deadly assault on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. The terrorist strike in the port city came as a shocking blow for all Pakistanis.

Police commandoes are on-guard around important prisons located in Rawalpindi, Multan, Bahawalpur, Attock, Chakwal, and Jhelum districts. Elite police and QRF personnel are also deployed around the airports in the Punjab province.

Since the Pak Army has launched the full-scale operation also called Zarb-e-Azb against the local and foreign militants, the possibility of Taliban’s next attack cannot be ruled out. Fearing the possible backlash, the federal government has already directed the provincial authorities to take unprecedented security measures to provide protection to the lives and properties of the public.

Security experts say the heavily armed militants would try to target key government installations on the pattern of Karachi airport attack to engage in a prolonged siege of the site to inflict maximum damage, hold hostages and create psychological fear to earn belligerent ascendancy. The quick response by Army did not allow the militants to take full control of airport during deadly assault in Karachi. Therefore, army troops are requested to remain on standby to ensure quick response in case a crisis develops, a police official said.

“The Army, Rangers, police and ASF are working together to thwart the nefarious designs of anti-Pakistan elements,” he added. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah on Monday told reporters that the law enforcement agencies would also go after the militants to destroy their bases anywhere in the province.

Meanwhile, on the direction of Lahore Capital City Police Officer Chuadhry Shafique Ahmad, DIG Operations Rana Abdul Jabbar has directed the police to intensify search operations, besides observing general hold-ups in Lahore. Crackdown against suspected persons is also underway while sharp-shooters are deployed on the rooftops of important buildings and key installations. The police are also directed to strictly check the movement of suspected persons at entry and exit points of Lahore.

Lahore DIG (Operations) further said that the security measures are taken in view of terrorism in the country and grand Army operation in North Waziristan. He has also appealed to the public to cooperate with the police to hunt down militants.

A police spokesman said that more than 10,000 policemen have been put on high alert in Lahore district. “VVIP’s are asked to restrain their movement. Heavy police contingents are deployed on the leading roads while armed patrolling has been intensified, he added.