KARACHI, April 20: At least 6,000 members of the 29,000-strong police force in Karachi employ over a 100 well-maintained mobile vans to escort high-flying VIPs.
Sources said that 72 per cent of escorts assigned by the police department were in the service of judges, politicians and religious leaders.
They added that quite often armed escorts were provided to people, such as visiting dignitaries and ministers, on a temporary basis.
“Quite often police guards adopt the manners of the religious leaders they accompany,” said a senior police official, adding that many times such policemen came to hold extremist views.
The official said that policemen who discharged escort duties for long lost their professional skills over time.
“Police guards often receive daily meals and a certain allowance from the people they escort. These ‘fringe benefits’ come with a monthly salary of Rs10,000 from the police department,” he said, adding that most policemen found it attractive to be on escort duty for long.
In addition to politicians, judges and religious leaders, some high-ranking police officials employ the services of 27 armed escorts.
“Often these escorts end up doing the cooking for their bosses. They also fetch the ‘sahib’s’ children from school,” said the police official.
Sources said that politicians belonging to the interior of Sindh receive their police escorts from their respective districts.
“But when they come to Karachi, they take another batch of armed escorts from the Karachi police,” they said.
Another senior police official said that a police escort had also become a status symbol. He said that some Muttahida Qaumi Movement ministers were very particular about police escorts. He added that a provincial minister had as many as 55 police guards.
Figures obtained by Dawn show that seven police escorts are assigned to the Chief Minister’s House and four police escorts are assigned to the Governor House.
The legislators who have been given police escorts on their request are Federal minister Dr Amir Liaquat Husain, City Nazim Mustafa Kamal, Naib Nazim Nasreen Jalil, provincial ministers Shabir Ahmed Qaimkhani, Shoaib Bukhari, Altaf Unar, Irfanullah Marwat, Saeeda Malick, Dr Saghir Ansari, Waseem Akhtar, Adil Siddiqi, Rauf Siddiqui and Haider Abbas.
The advisers to the chief minister who also have police escorts include Jadim Mangrio, Faisal Gabol, Jam Murad Ali, M.A. Jalil, Noman Saigol, Ghulam Rasool Unar and Tariq Hasan.
Sources said that escort vehicles of provincial minister Sardar Ahmed and Adviser to the Chief Minister Islahuddin are undergoing repairs.
Former servicemen Tanveer Naqvi and Moinuddin Haider, Mirza Akhtiar Baig, Dr Adeeb Rizvi, the Sindh home secretary, and the consuls-general of Iran, UK and US also have police escorts.
Sindh High Court Chief Justice Sabihuddin Ahmed, Judge Haq Nawaz Baloch, Judge Maqbool Rizvi, Judge Saghar Husain Zaidi, Judge Arshad Noor, Judge Shaukat Husain, Sindh Advocate-General Anwer Mansoor, former provincial advocate-general Raja Qureshi and Prosecutor Mazhar Qayum also have police escorts.
Former city police chief Tariq Jamil still has two police escorts. Others who enjoy the same facility include Additional IGP, DIG Operations, DIG Operations Reserve, Chairman Anti Corruption, Director General NAB, police station NAB, DSP Headquarter Garden, Frontier Corps Commander.
Religious leaders Maulana Shahid Ghauri, Binnoria Town, Maulana Qamar Abbas Naqvi and Senator Abbas Kumali also have police escorts.
The acting Sindh Inspector-General, Niaz Ahmed Siddiqui, was unavailable for comment.