LAHORE - At least 9000 police personnel including a great number of Elite Police Force (EPF) commandoes were put on high-alert in the provincial metropolis, where the first international cricket match was played after six years on Friday.
Apart from aerial surveillance, there was four-layer security for the visiting team. The policemen also carried out snap-checking and physical search of every person at three different points before allowing anyone to enter the stadium. Also, more than 2000 specially-trained commandoes were also put on their toes to maintain peace and law and order in the Punjab capital.
Lahore DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf told reporters that they had taken various important steps to ensure smooth and safe passage for the motorcades of the cricket team (from hotel to stadium and back). “We have put a proper system in place to ensure close monitoring of every object (in and around the stadium). Everything is being monitored through different sources,” Haider Ashraf added.
The Lahore Operations Police Chief further said that a good number of plainclothesmen are also deployed among the crowed in and outside the stadium to check the activities of troublemakers and miscreants. Hundreds of policewomen are also deployed around the stadium to ensure physical checking of female spectators.
There was extraordinary police patrolling on the route and around the stadium as tens of thousands of spectators including children and women thronged to the stadium hours before the start of the game. The cricket stadium was packed to capacity.
Helicopters were seen hovering over the sky for aerial surveillance during the match while police on gun-fitted vehicles continue patrolling on all the roads which lead to the stadium. Apart from heavy police contingents, sharp-shooters and well-trained commandoes were also deployed on different roads to provide security to the visiting Zimbabwe team.
Days before the arrival of the visiting team, police and security personnel performed full-dress rehearsal to ensure best security for Pakistan-Zimbabwe series.
Pakistanis were desperately waiting for international cricket in the country since militants attacked the visiting Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009. While Pakistanis were deprived of international cricket in their country, the Green Shirts lost the opportunity to play on home ground. Friday was a perfect day both for the Pakistani players and cricket fans as well.
According to a police spokesperson, the security was heightened all across the provincial metropolis on the directions of Punjab Inspector General of Police Punjab Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera. Under the plan about 9000 police officers and officials including “all SSPs, SPs, Elite Police, Special Branch, and other Law Enforcement Agencies will remain on security duty during the scheduled cricket matches.”
Similarly, at least 2000 police personnel will also remain on stand-by to quickly respond in case of any untoward situation.
Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Muhammad Amin Wains and DIG (Operations) Haider Ashraf along with other senior officers were constantly supervising the aerial surveillance through three designated helicopters. These officers will also remain in constant liaison with the administration of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the visiting team as well.
Lahore SSP Muhammad Baqar Raza and SP CIA Umar Virk are directed to supervise the search operations against suspected elements in different parts of the metropolis. According to police, this exercise will continue till the departure of the visiting team.
The police have conducted as many as 128 search operations in Lahore during the last 48 hours, the spokesperson said. During the security sweep, at least 107 hotels 17 guesthouses, 724 shops, 3016 houses, and 870 tenants were checked.
The police also set up special pickets to intercept the movement of suspected persons in different localities including Lahore Railways station, general bus stand, and the surroundings of the stadium.
Meanwhile, the Lahore traffic police also made special arrangements to ensure smooth flow of vehicular traffic on the city roads during the series.
A police spokesperson said that at least 978 Traffic wardens, 111 patrolling officers, 22 Inspectors, and 9 senior police officers would perform duties to ensure smooth flow vehicular traffic on this occasion. Lahore Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Tayyab Hafeez Cheema has been supervising the arrangements to control the traffic.