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ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Maulana Fazlur Rehman have been provided with the highest number of security officials, at public expense, the government revealed on Monday.

Awami Muslim League (AML) President Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has been provided five officials, while Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chairman Fazlur Rehman have been provided four officials each, Interior Special Secretary Rizwan Malik told the Senate Standing Committee on Interior.

He said the officials had been provided according to threat alerts generated by various agencies and claimed that there was no discrepancy in appointing officials as anyone could require security.

Two security officials have been provided to former Senate chairmen Raza Rabbani, Wasim Sajjad and Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, former law minister Zahid Hamid, former interior ministers Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Rehman Malik, opposition leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman and Federal Tax Ombudsman Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera.

Committee formed to determine whether security provided on meritorious grounds

“One official each has been provided to Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik’s wife Mashaal Malik, Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women Kashmala Tariq and the heads of other institutions,” he added.

Committee member Senator Chaudhry Tanvir Khan, while discussing the placement of officials, asked how Sheikh Rashid could be considered the most deserving of security.

He said it was unjustified that two police vehicles accompanied him at all times.

The interior secretary said Sheikh Rashid had previously survived a suicide attack, while Deputy Inspector General Security Waqar Chohan said Sheikh Rashid is only provided security by the Islamabad police while in the limits of the capital.

Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri from the JUI-F, who was invited to attend the meeting, disagreed with the interior ministry’s claim that security is provided based on the level of threat to individuals.

“No agency has ever informed me about threats, but on May 12, 2017, I was attacked in Balochistan due to which 26 people were martyred and around 50 were injured. I luckily survived the attack, but to date I have not gotten the inquiry report of the incident,” he told committee members.

He added: “Security was provided to me when I was Senate deputy chairman but after retirement, despite a number of requests, not a single official has been provided to me. I have written letters to police heads and even the minister of interior, but nobody is willing to address my issue.”

Senator Javed Abbasi said security officials provided to him were withdrawn on orders from the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP).

In April, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had directed police chiefs in all the provinces to withdraw security protocols from influential individuals who were not entitled to official security. However, he later said those under threat could be provided security.

“As the officials were withdrawn on the orders of the CJP, I decided to keep silent on the issue,” Mr Abbasi said.

Senator Mohammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo, son of former prime minister Mohammad Khan Junejo, said his security was also withdrawn.

“Although our life is in the hands of God, security gives a sense of protection. Moreover, the government has withdrawn licences of prohibited bore weapons due to which we have become more vulnerable to attacks,” he said.

Committee chairman Senator Abdul Rehman Malik said security should be provided to individuals who have served for the country.

He directed for a committee, led by Senator Abbasi, to be formed to look into the issue and determine if security officials are provided on meritorious grounds or if deserving individuals had been ignored.

The committee will also include senators Azam Khan Musakhel and Ateeq Shaikh.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2018