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RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has directed that box security be given to heads of the major political parties, including former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, during their stay, movement, political activities and election campaigns.

Box security is when a deployment of police officials is made for covering an individual at all times.

Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have also suggested that the caretaker Punjab chief minister be moved into the official residence on Club Road instead of staying at his private residence.

Intelligence, law enforcement agencies apprised of threats against former Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif

It has been decided to provide bullet proof vehicles to the Punjab home minister and Zia Haider Rizvi, the minister for excise and taxation, finance and law, in view of potential security threats to 10 mainstream political leaders and security measures approved by the Provincial Intelligence Committee.

The decision to provide foolproof security to heads of mainstream political parties was taken at a top-level meeting held recently under the chairmanship of the interior minister and attended by additional chief secretary, inspector general of police Punjab, additional inspector general of Special Branch, Counter Terrorism Department officials, senior officials of the Intelligence Bureau and officials of Inter-Services Intelligence and MI.

Representatives of federal and provincial intelligence agencies presented their assessment about prevailing threat perceptions for the upcoming general elections.

The deputy inspector general of police VVIP security had been directed to review the security arrangements of the caretaker chief minister of Punjab, at his existing residence and during his movement. All vulnerable points near his residence should be secured, he was directed.

The meeting was told there are threats of terrorist activities by terrorist groups and hostile foreign agencies during election campaigns which should be countered through proactive intelligence fusion and effective efforts by all law enforcement agencies.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed recently wrote a letter to the caretaker Punjab chief minister asking that security provided to Shahbaz Sharif should be reviewed.

The home minister directed the IGP to be cautious after the letter and to ensure the security of Mr Sharif.

According to sources, intelligence had already asked the law enforcement agencies to beef up the security of Shahbaz Sharif due to potential life threats against him and advised him to be extra careful during campaigns.

Shahbaz Sharif’s security officer has also been advised to strictly follow the guideline for the security of important persons issued by the Home Department on June 11, 2018.

Other concerned departments, divisional police chiefs and senior ISI and MI officers have been informed of the threats against Mr Sharif.

The meeting was told of the misuse of official police cover by some politicians through public display of official vehicles with security lights. The concerned district intelligence committees were directed to review and deliberate on the security provided to five former federal and provincial ministers including Ahsan Iqbal and Rana Sanaullah and furnish their recommendations.

Candidates for the elections facing security threats may apply to the concerned district intelligence committees for allowing them to keep two private security guards. If approved, the candidates will register details of the guards and weapons at the local police station. The guards will have to display their cards when performing duties.

The district administration and police were told to ensure strict enforcement of the code of conduct notified by the election commission and there will be zero tolerance for the display of weapons, all types of firing and fireworks.

All districts across the province have been directed to make their security and contingency plans for the general elections and to include counter terrorism components as an essential part of these plans.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2018