Former President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf.—File Photo.

ISLAMABAD: As former president Pervez Musharraf is expected to arrive in Islamabad on March 28, security forces have begun making arrangements for his time in the city, including the deployment of three commandos at his home and road blockades and increased vigilance in the area.

A meeting at which officials from the police, the Interior Ministry and the intelligence agencies were to discuss arrangements for Musharraf's security, scheduled for Tuesday, was unexpectedly postponed, sources revealed. The police, however, have ‘finalized’ their contribution.

The local police will station three of its commandos outside Pervez Musharraf's farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, in the outskirts of Islamabad. According to a senior police official, “the protocols outlined in the Blue Book state that former heads of state are entitled to security protection”. However, he continued, “they don't specify anything about the number of personnel or the specific arrangements.”

The police have put roadblocks around the farmhouse and on nearby access roads, slowing approaching vehicles for ‘security purposes’. Personnel at the Shahzad Town police station will be deployed at temporary pickets to scrutinise people approaching the residence.

While the intelligence agencies have been less forthcoming about their contributions to security for the former president, their officers are reported to be “performing their duties” around Musharraf’s home.

Police superintendents are deeply involved in the arrangements, with the SP City and SP Rural both expected to receive Musharraf when he arrives at Benazir Bhutto International Airport, from where they will escort him to his farmhouse.

The SP City will be responsible for providing security personnel during Musharraf's movements in Islamabad, coordinating with the former president's staff as needed.

In a press conference in Karachi, Musharraf claimed that he would come to Islamabad on March 28. The date is not yet firm, however, and according to a police official, the officers responsible for Musharraf's security have not been given any concrete details. “Usually, officers receive details a few hours beforehand,” the official said, suggesting that the lack of prior information was a way of ensuring greater safety.

The increase in security for the former president has been felt throughout the capital. Police have begun more stringent checking procedures at Islamabad's entry and exit points, and various other Islamabad locations have been identified for greater thoroughness. At traffic lights, female police officers have been deployed to more easily investigate suspicious women.

Inspector General of Police Bani Amin Khan has ordered that additional police forces be deployed at ‘sensitive locations’ and important buildings, some of them plainclothes officers charged with ‘remaining vigilant against suspicious elements’.

Other officers, armed with sophisticated weapons, have been stationed on strategic rooftops. Individual police stations have formed special police teams to patrol their jurisdictions more frequently.

“As part of our security preparation,” the IGP explained, “we will provide additional logistical support and manpower to all police stations. Rescue-15 and police commandos are also taking part in patrolling." The police have also organised a Quick Response Force, which is to remain ready in the event of any ‘untoward situation’.

From Rescue-15, a squad of Falcon vehicles has been ordered to patrol the city and maintain regular contact with the heads of the police stations.

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