LAHORE - Police Monday mounted one of the biggest security operations in Lahore for the Pakistan Super League eliminators to be played here at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Thousands of police are deployed across the metropolis to guard key routes, public places, and shopping malls while security searches are intensified at all the entry and exit points. A week ago, police and paramilitary troops launched massive search and combing operations within three kilometer radius of the stadium and hotel to hunt down suspected elements.

Hundreds of police are taking part in the search operations launched in the surrounding areas of the stadium and the hotel. Police are searching hotels, inns, and different residential areas to hunt down suspected elements.

The authorities on late Monday night closed several major roads around the stadium as part of security strategy, involving intelligence operatives and counterterrorism personnel. The visiting players will be enjoying the status of “state guests” in the country, officials said. Dozens of police companies are working in two-shifts to guard stadium, hotel, and the travel route of the players.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation on Monday, Chief of the Punjab Police (Operations) Aamir Zulfiqar Khan said that the cricket players would be provided six-layer security at the stadium and the hotel during their stay. He said a comprehensive security plan would be fully implemented to ensure best security arrangements for the cricket matches.

“Hundreds of police commandoes are deployed around the hotel and stadium with extraordinary police patrolling on all major city roads. The teams of NADRA (national database and registration authority) will assist police during security operations,” the officer said. Also, police commandoes and snipers will be deployed on the route during the movement of the players from the hotel to the stadium.

“Pakistan Rangers personnel and civil administration are also part of our team. Our team has been working day and night to make this event a success,” he said. “The PSL is very successfully creating soft image of the country. The day is not far when all international teams will visit and stay in Pakistan to play mega cricket series,” he added.

To a query, the additional IG said there was no specific security threat with regard to the PSL matches but the police would leave no stone unturned to thwart the nefarious designs of the anti-state elements. “Our field officers are (put) on their toes. They are equipped with modern technology and best weaponry,” he said. “The Dolphins Force, Police Response Units, Quick Response Force and anti-riot units are also engaged to guard city roads especially during the matches.”

He said the police would provide four-layer security to the cricket fans and everyone would be allowed entry to the stadium only after complete body search at four different stages. “Our field officers will be using biometric machines, walkthrough gates, and metal detectors during the security operation,” he said.

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. Aamir said more than 7,000 police will be employed for security duties while aerial surveillance will also be ensured with the help of helicopters. The security situation will be monitored with the help of thousands of CCTV cameras installed on the city roads as part of the Safe City project.

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

On the other hand, Chief Traffic Officer Rai Ejaz Ahmad said the police had finalized a comprehensive traffic plan in order to ensure smooth flow of traffic on city roads during PSL matches. He said that the morale of his force is very high and they were doing rehearsals with regard to traffic management on the mega event.

“We are going to implement a complete traffic control and management plan with maximum deployment of force and minimum roadblocks. A number of special parking lots are set up near the stadium to facilitate the visitors,” the SSP traffic said.