FAISALABAD: It was the launch of a lawn brand at a Faisalabad hotel last week where gun-toting guards, and not the beauty world celebrities, had more presence.

Mujahid Nabi, one of the participants, says guns everywhere not only spoiled the event, but his family felt harassed.

“The presence of armed people at the entrance frightened my family who thought the event was likely to be attacked by militants,” he says.

Event organisers, according to him, when approached, said the armed people were the security guards of some industrialists.

Be it a lawn launch or a wedding ceremony or a shopping mall, one cannot escape guards if some industrialists, politicians or rich businessmen are due there.

Police have no data on private security guards.

Industrialists say they have to hire guards for their security owing to poor law and order, while politicians say political rivalries make the guards a necessity.

Khurram Mukhtar, an industrialist, said sensing the law and order situation and repeated threats hurled on him and his family, he had to hire security people. He said unemployment was aggravating the security situation and they were living under constant threats. He said criminals were present around industries.

Irfan Manan, son of MNA Mian Abdul Mannan, however, says hiring guards has become a status symbol. He demanded standard operating procedures on hiring guards.

He said keeping security guards at public gatherings should be subject to the approval of the home secretary and a no-objection certificate from the police department.

A deputy inspector general, requesting anonymity, told Dawn instead of strengthening law-enforcement agencies, politicians and businessmen were creating their own militias that would spoil the peace of society with the passage of time.

He asked one could imagine the gravity of the situation, if some rival businessmen or politicians, armed with guards, had a clash on road. He said the government must order the people to hire guards through the home department.

“Police department lacks sophisticated arms and ammunition, however, private guards are roaming with modern weapons,” he added.

PML-N MPA Kashif Raheem said the trend of hiring private security guards showed the weakness of the police. He said strict action must be taken against the people roaming with guards.

Mr Raheem, however, defended guards for parliamentarians, saying most of the public representatives had hired security guards with the permission of the government. He said police must launch an operation and guards should be allowed after a proper scrutiny.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2016

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