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LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: More than 12,600 police personnel deputed for the security of unauthorised persons across the country were withdrawn on Saturday in compliance with the order of Chief Justice of Paksitan Mian Saqib Nisar.

The unprecedented action taken by the federal and provincial governments will affect many politicians, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former interior minister Aftab Sherpao, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, as well as police officials, journalists, bureaucrats, foreigners and judges.

The data provided by law enforcement agencies shows that 4,610 police personnel in Punjab; 5,005 in Sindh; around 2,000 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; 829 Balo­chistan Constabulary and police personnel in Balo­chistan, 246 in Islamabad have been called back to their stations following the chief justice’s directive.

Move draws sharp criticism as it affects many politicians, judges, police officers, journalists, civilians and foreigners

The CJP had asked the inspectors general police (IGPs) of the provinces and Islamabad on April 19 to withdraw security which had been provided to the non-entitled persons.

The chief justice during his visit to the Peshawar registry had taken notice of the deployment of a large number of police personnel at the residences and offices of the unauthorised persons. He directed the Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Islamabad police chiefs “to withdraw the police security within 24 hours from those people who are not entitled, and submit affidavits to the effect duly attested by oath commissioner on next date of hearing April 23 in Islamabad.”

Appearing before the chief justice, Khyber Pakh­tunkhwa IGP Salahuddin Mehsud said around 70 per cent people with police security in the province were not entitled to it under rules. He said he had issued directives for the withdrawal of around 2,000 police personnel from unauthorised persons and gave an undertaking that the security would be withdrawn by Saturday evening.

The Punjab police withdrew a total of 4,610 police personnel provided to the non-entitled personalities, including parliamentarians, judges, journalists and police officials for their security. From Lahore alone, 2,480 policemen, including Elite force personnel, were withdrawn from the offices and houses of 441 unauthorised persons.

According to the official figures obtained by Dawn, the Punjab police had “accommodated” in violation of the entitlement criteria as many as 1,853 persons across the province awarding them one or more police personnel for their protection. The statistics showed that 469 officials of the lower judiciary had been provided 626 police officials without their entitlement for the extra security.

The police personnel were withdrawn from the officials of the lower judiciary on the CJP order. Besides, 3,984 policemen were called back from their security duties with 297 politicians, 527 civil administration/police officers, 54 journalists, 250 religious leaders, 23 lawyers and 233 other persons who were not authorised to keep police security.

In Sindh, sources said, a total of 5,005 police guards had been withdrawn from unauthorised person till late Saturday evening.

In Balochistan, the sources, some 829 security officials belonging to Balochistan Constabulary and police had been withdrawn from the security of non-entitled people.

In Islamabad, the 246 policemen deployed for the protection of politicians, civil judges and officials of the judiciary, retired and serving police officers, district administration, some foreigners, civilians and bureaucrats without their entitlement to keep them were asked to report back to their respective stations.

Committee formed

Islamabad IGP Dr Sultan Azam Temuri said a committee headed by DIG police security and comprising officials of Nacta, security and intelligence agencies would soon be constituted to deal with the requests for police security in future.

Maryam’s reaction

In her reaction to the move, Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, tweeted that the chief justice would be responsible if any harm was caused to her father. “My Lord, snatch the security of the (former) prime minister who had targeted terrorists by looking directly into their eyes but if, God forbid, anything happened to him, only you (CJP) will be responsible for it,” she tweeted.

ANP general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who lost his only son in a suicide attack, said he frequently received advices from security agencies to take extraordinary measures for his protection. He said hundreds of die-hard workers and leaders of his party faced tragedies not because of any private enmity but for the larger cause of the country.

Earlier on Friday, the JUI-F chief’s personal secretary sent a letter sent to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa IG seeking proper security. “The JUI-F chief is serving as chairman of the parliament’s Kashmir committee and “is facing security threats”.

Zulfiqar Ali from Peshawar also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2018