RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has directed police, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and Special Branch to step up security around prominent political figures and sensitive installations in the province.

The government has also directed that changes be made to the standard operating procedures (SOP) for the protection of political leaders. Police have also been asked to carry out surveys to verify residents of government houses.

An advisory issued by the chief of Punjab police cited intelligence that suggested attacks have been planned by groups associated with the Islamic State and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan on politicians during election campaign.

Security measures should be adopted during movements in public meetings or other meetings of political leaders, the advisory said.

It added that important buildings such as airports, railway stations, bus stands, markets, hospitals, schools and recreational sites should be kept under vigilance.

As a part of the tightened security, law enforcement personnel deployed at key points should wear bulletproof jackets and follow other safety precautions issued by the home department.

The Punjab government has already banned assemblies, gatherings, sit-ins, rallies, processions, demonstrations and public meetings in the province, other than those held in secure walled premises and allowed by the district administration.

SOPs to set up stages for political gatherings should also be followed, and organisers should be sensitised about the terror threat by the district police officer.

Organisers will be held accountable in the event of an untoward incident at a political gathering held without a no-objection certificate, it said.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2018