ISLAMABAD: Following the controversy surrounding Rangers deployment outside the court hearing corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the paramilitary force on Wednesday withdrew its personnel from Parliament House.

Rangers and Quick Response Force (QRF) personnel are posted around Parliament House during proceedings of the National Assembly and Senate, police officers stated, adding that around 50 paramilitary personnel remained deployed around the parliament building during house proceedings.

On Wednesday, Rangers withdrew the security provided to Parliament House, adding that they had asked for written instructions in this regard.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has sought an explanation from the Punjab Rangers director general over the unilateral withdrawal of security from Parliament House, as well as the deployment at the Federal Judicial Complex during the hearing of references against Nawaz Sharif without being requested.

Sources told Dawn that the minister had given the Rangers DG 72 hours to provide an explanation.

Interior minister seeks explanation, orders Frontier Constabulary to take over legislature’s security

In a related development, Mr Iqbal ordered the Frontier Constabulary to take charge of the parliament’s security following the unilateral withdrawal of Rangers personnel.

Police and capital administration officers, when contacted, said that Rangers were deployed in the capital at the request of police, adding that the Islamabad SSP had approached the deputy commissioner (DC) and sought Rangers assistance in securing sensitive installations, including Parliament House.

In response, the DC had issued an order asking for Rangers deployment, the sources said, adding that paramilitary personnel usually did not move without written orders, except in the case of counterterrorism operations.

Officials said there was “a disturbed situation” among the civil administration, police and Rangers, adding that things worsened on Monday when Rangers took over the security of the courts in G-11 without any authority.

Once in control, the paramilitary personnel did not allow anyone, including ministers, lawyers and journalists, to enter the building.

When asked to comment, an official from the National Assembly Secretariat told Dawn the issue had nothing to with the speaker’s office or the secretariat.

He said that sergeants-at-arms were responsible for the internal security of Parliament House, whereas police and the local administration provided security from the outside.

Iftikhar A. Khan also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2017

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