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In December 2014, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had directed the Islamabad police not to provide police guards to any private person.

He had also ordered the withdrawal of the official security provided to Lal Masjid cleric Malauna Abdul Aziz.

However, last month it was learnt that the police had been violating the minister’s directive. A police officer told Dawn on the condition of anonymity that on December 21, 2015 the secretary general of a banned outfit’s Islamabad chapter was intercepted at the Daman-i-Koh picket after the officials saw a man armed with a sub-machinegun travelling with him.

When the police asked for the identification and search of the occupants, the gunman introduced himself as a police constable from the Aabpara police station. As he was in civvies and carrying a weapon, the police officials asked for his identity card. But instead of producing the card, the guard started arguing with the policemen.

When one of the police officials at the picket took out his mobile phone and dialed the Aabpara police station for confirmation, the guard disembarked from the vehicle and opened fire into the air. He then aimed his gun at the police officials, the officer alleged. In response, one of the policemen also opened fire into the air and his colleagues snatched the SMG from the guard. After a brawl, the officials overpowered the gunman.

Later, he along with the leader of the banned outfit was taken to the Kohsar police station where the issue was resolved. Though it was a serious matter, the senior police officers tried to hush-up the matter fearing that if the interior minister got wind of it, he would take action against them.

A police inquiry confirmed that the constable was given to the secretary general of the banned outfit from the Aabpara police station.

During the police inquiry, when the Moharar of the police station was questioned about the deployment, he said the constable was given to the office-bearer of the banned outfit by the station house officer (SHO) on the direction of the area superintendent of the police.

The Moharar said there were no written orders and the constable was assigned the private security duty verbally, the officer said. As there was no evidence, the Moharar was held responsible for the deployment and suspended.

The officer said the Moharar was made scapegoat to save the skin of senior officers.

However, after two weeks, the Moharar was restored on the job when the senior police officers believed that the incident had gone unnoticed by the interior minister.

When contacted, the Moharar, Malik Farooq, said the issue had been resolved, adding his suspension and restoration was a departmental matter.

The leader of the banned outfit told Dawn that the scuffle between his guard and the police officials was their personal matter.

Another senior police officer said though the minister had strictly directed the police not to provide official security to ineligible people, his direction was not being followed.

He justified the violation of the minister’s direction by the police saying, “Official guards are provided to such people on the basis of give and take.” He said this always helped the police develop the level of trust between the police and leaders of such outfits.

“If we fulfill their demands, they also reciprocate and do not create troubles for the police.” Besides, the deployment of police guards also helps the police keep a close eye on such people.

He said the police officers knew such issues and how to handle them and violated the minister’s directive.

The officer also admitted that police guards were also provided to some other private persons.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2016