LAHORE - The Punjab government has given a final shape to the structure for setting up Anti-Terrorism Force on the directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

According to sources, test and interview for recruitment in the force will begin in November on merit and as per the criteria fixed for picking up suitable persons to counter the ongoing wave of terrorism as well as maintain law and order.

The first batch of the recruits would be ready after training in February next year.

Sources say a separate and totally different standard from that of police and other law-enforcement agencies has been set for the personnel of Anti-Terrorism Force. Their pay scales will be much higher than that of others with additional benefit of residential facility.

They said Rs 75,000 salary had been fixed for the lowest cadre in the force. The whole lot of the force will take two years to be completely ready for operation.

Sources say as soon as the force is fully ready, men from other departments will also be brought on deputation.

Applications for recruitment will be invited through an advertisement in the last week of the instant month and no third divisioner in the academic career would be eligible to apply. In the first phase, 500 persons will be inducted in the force after training in February.

CM chairs meeting on PEACE IN Muharram: A high-level meeting with Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the chair on Saturday constituted a cabinet committee to ensure peace during Muharram-ul-Haram in Punjab.

Headed by law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, the cabinet committee has been assigned the task of reviewing security arrangements regularly and ensuring implementation on security plan during the holy month of Muharram-ul-Haram.

The members of the committee would visit the entire province to maintain peace during the month. For this purpose, they will have the facility of the chief minister’s helicopter.

Addressing the meeting, the chief minister said nothing could be more important than maintenance of law and order and all required resources would be provided for this purpose. He said security arrangements during Muharram should be made better than those in the previous years and no effort should be spared for the protection of life and property of the people.

The CM said the country was passing through the most critical juncture and the enemy was hatching conspiracies to harm the country’s sovereignty. He said the entire nation would have to unite to foil the nefarious designs of anti-state elements.

He added arrangements to purchase equipment needed for ensuring security during Muharram-ul-Haram should be made on time.

Shahbaz Sharif said punctuality of time schedule and routes of Muharram processions should be ensured at every cost.

He said a four-tier security cordon should be made, CCTV cameras installed on the routes, walk-through gates, jammers, generators, lights and other necessary items should be arranged on time.

The chief minister sought implementation on the ban on display of weapons and strict action against the violators.

He said action should be taken against those delivering provocative speeches, distributing and publishing material fanning hatred and sectarianism.

He directed the chief secretary to release funds immediately for providing food to the police officers who would perform duty during Muharram-ul-Haram.

He also sought a media plan for creating awareness among the people.