LAHORE: As the government heightened security in Lahore on Wednesday in the wake of the Quetta terrorist attack, its functionaries appeared tense because of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) sit-down in Islamabad on Nov 2.

Additional policemen, both in uniform and plainclothes, were seen guarding important buildings and places in the city with assault guns in their hands.

The places included the Lahore High Court, The Mall, Central Police Office (CPO), Civil Secretariat, MPAs hostels, Chief Minister’s Secretariat at 90-Shahrah-i-Quaid-i-Azam and Club Chowk, GORs, police stations and lines.

There was also additional security in the Punjab University and the University of Engineering and Technology where guards and police stood alert, allowing entry to every students after checking their identity cards.

Security was extraordinary within the Civil Secretariat and outside the CPO. Inside were hectic security meetings. Officials said there was no specific terror threat for Lahore but the Quetta incident had forced the authorities to remain extra careful.

Uncertainty among govt functionaries about Nov 2 protest’s outcome

They said the main thrust of the meetings was how to handle the Imran Khan sit-in in Islamabad. The government had quietly handled his rally in Raiwind on Sept 30.

At that time, the PML-N ministers and supporters were condemning Imran Khan and even threatening to stop his public meeting with force. The party high-ups, however, had decided to allow the meeting after assessing that it could not do any harm to the government. They had also stopped the party cadre from lashing out at Mr Khan or hurling any threats at him.

Now, officials said, the government was rather uncertain about of the consequences of the sit-down. The confidence of the government functionaries, this time, was low and different options were being discussed in detail on how to handle the protest.

There were opinions of preventing PTI workers and leaders from reaching Islamabad, stopping them from leaving their towns. The topics also included how to handle any untoward incident before and during the sit-in.Officials said their colleagues continued to prepare for the main meetings that were held in the chief minister’s secretariat.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2016