RAWALPINDI: A high-level meeting of Special Branch, Intelligence Bureau and City Police Office officials as well as the commissioner and other Rawalpindi authorities was held recently to discuss a number of food outlets called Quetta Hotel and Café.

Sources said that that law enforcement and intelligence agencies are monitoring many outlets with this name that have opened in the garrison city who have hired ‘unverified’ employees from Balochistan.

Sources said the Special Branch had already identified 24 Quetta Hotel and Cafés in Rawalpindi, and eight more with the same name have opened in various parts of the city.

Sources said the most worrying, for intelligence and law enforcement officials, was that employees at these outlets were from Qilla Saifullah, Pishin and Khuzdar in Balochistan and had limited or no credible identification.

Intelligence officials have urged continuous surveillance and scrutiny of the outlets’ owners and workers.

Sources said the district administration was asked to verify the legal status and sanitary conditions of these outlets through the district food department.

A senior security official said that outlets named Quetta Chaman Hotel and Café and Quetta Hotel and Café have opened in various parts of Rawalpindi district and two or three such outlets are owned by one person.

He said the owners of these outlets have said they migrated to Rawalpindi from parts of Balochistan and Karachi owing to the security situation and have opened their outlets with permission from the district government.

When contacted, City Police Officer (CPO) Mohammad Faisal Rana confirmed that police and intelligence officials recently discussed the increase in eateries with Quetta in their names in detail.

He said: “We have been monitoring all such cafés using the brand name ‘Quetta’ closely. If any illegal or criminal activity came to the notice of the police legal action would be initiated.”

However, he also said that none of the owners of employees of these outlets have any connections to organisations or criminal groups.

CPO Rana said: “Yes, police did some work on this issue but did not find any wrongdoing. People are establishing hotels and cafés with the brand name ‘Quetta’ but the police cannot shut their businesses down only on the basis that they are use the brand name.”

He also said that in their survey, the police did not find any individuals who had migrated from anywhere in Balochistan and were operating such outlets. He added that there are no legal restrictions on any individuals that they may not do business in other parts of the country.

“The title name ‘Quetta’ is not registered, some people are using it as a brand name,” he said.

According to a frequent customer of one of the Quetta outlets, the restaurant attracts customers with low prices and better service compared to traditional eateries.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2019