Thursday December 02, 2021

Ministers, political leaders’ additional security withdrawn

July 12, 2021
Ministers, political leaders’ additional security withdrawn

Ag Sabah

ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: The Cabinet Division and Islamabad police have pulled additional security provided to federal ministers, leaders of different political parties and officials, sources informed Geo News on Sunday.

Personnel have been pulled back from the security details of National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, and five federal ministers. The federal ministers will now have only two security personnel for their protocol. Three security officials, out of five, have been withdrawn from the security details of the above-mentioned. However, the security detail of Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani will remain unchanged.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari and Defence Minister Pervez Khattak are among several ministers who have had their security details reduced in numbers, the sources added.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on July 6 had said that during a federal cabinet meeting, PM Imran Khan had received a report that many governmental dignitaries were enjoying more protocol than necessary.

In this regard, the premier has asked all government officials to scale back on availing protocol-related privileges, he said.

In a bid to save taxpayers’ money and to save the public from the inconvenience that comes with the protocol and security accompanying a head of state, Prime Minister Imran Khan last week had announced he will be doing away with the practice when he went out to any private function.

"To save taxpayers’ money and avoid inconvenience to the public, I will not be going to any private function with protocol and security," the prime minister twittered.

Javed Aziz Khan adds: Meanwhile, the authorities have decided to reconsider security to the individuals facing genuine threats a day after an order regarding withdrawal of policemen as well as Elite commandos deployed for protection of politicians, government officials and other VIPs.

The provincial government and the police authorities drew fire on the social media after a notification that mentioned withdrawal of Elite force commandos and police guards from a number of political leaders, mostly from the opposition parties, at a time when threats have increased.

Some of these leaders and other individuals had received a number of threats, while a few had even escaped suicide attacks, bomb blasts and firing.

"All those feeling threatened would be provided with adequate security. They should approach the Home Department where they will be provided guards officially on the recommendation of the threat assessment committee," an official said on Sunday.

He added a number of people, who were not entitled to security, were provided with official guards including Elite commandos in the past years, misusing the facility.

Hundreds of policemen including Elite commandos are deployed with different VIPs across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while the force is facing acute shortage of manpower for operational duties.

"Security provided to hundreds of people across the province has been taken back by the KP government so as to systematise the security arrangements beyond political affiliations. No political discrimination has been made while withdrawing the security. Those who are facing severe life threats would not be left without security; however, they will have to approach the Home Department for validating their security," said an official handout later on Sunday.

It added that certain people in the province were provided police security under formal permission of the Home Department while several others used their influence to get the same and were utilising it for self-aggrandizement.

The exercise is across the board, non-discriminatory, fair and transparent as per the laid down government policy.

"The government will provide a general security umbrella to all the citizens and personalized security to the people having specialized security needs. Now if withdrawal of security has affected any important person and he feels insecure, he can contact the Home Department for availing the said facility and the department in light of the recommendations of the Provincial Threat Assessment Committee will provide him security via issuing a formal order," it added.

Reports said a large number of guards were given to even those who were not entitled for official security but were provided cops by one or the other police officer only to oblige them.

Besides, a large number of police officers are having double and triple the number of the guards that were officially allowed for their protection and other duties.

A large number of cops are also performing duties with some of the senior police officers who retired several years ago.

Many political leaders and workers posted the notification on social media late Saturday night that stated the withdrawal of a total of 58 Elite commandos and a large number of regular policemen from the politicians, government officials and other individuals.

"We are not fond of security but the state had provided us guards due to serious threats. We can understand why they withdrew security from us today. Such acts cannot demoralise us and we will continue fighting for the rights of our nation, even with more strength," provincial president of Awami National Party Aimal Wali Khan tweeted along with the official notification of withdrawal of Elite commandos.

According to the notification, three Elite cops were given to him for security that were withdrawn.

"I just want to tell the nation that the selected government will be responsible if anything happens to me or my family after withdrawal of security," said the ANP leader.

Eight guards of the Elite force provided to former chief minister and senior vice president of the ANP Ameer Haider Hoti were also withdrawn, while one guard was closed from general secretary of the party Mian Iftikhar Hussain and three closed from the house of late Begum Nasim Wali Khan.

The ANP has sacrificed hundreds of its workers in suicide attacks, bomb blasts and target killings when they were in power in KP from 2008 to 2013.

Attacks continued on the party workers even when ANP was not in power. The top leaders ANP lost in terrorist attacks in the past years included a senior party leader and the then senior minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour, his son Haroon Ahmad Bilour, a number of MPAs and seasoned leaders and workers.

Apart from ANP, two Elite guards are also closed from former speaker and leader of Pakistan People's Party Kiramatullah Chaghar Matti, three from PPP provincial president Humayun Khan and two from former PPP MNA Asma Alamgir.

Two Elite commandos each were withdrawn from PTI MNA Anwar Taj, Senator Ayub Afridi and MPAs Somi Falaknaz and Salahuddin.

Also, one Elite cop was withdrawn from Chairman Qaumi Watan Party Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and provincial president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Amir Muqam. The two have survived suicide attacks and other assaults.

Seven Elite force guards were closed from director general National Accountability Bureau as per the notification, while one each guard has been withdrawn from secretary industries, DG Excise, DG KPRA, ex-nazim Town-III, a retired Accountant General, DG Anti-Corruption Department and other officials.

Sabah adds: Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Sunday said the government’s decision to withdraw security from the leaders of different political parties in KP was criminal to say the least, especially when Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Engineer Amir Muqam and Mian Iftikhar Hussain had already been attacked.

In a tweet, Shehbaz questioned who will be responsible if something untoward happened.

“The PTI govt’s decision to withdraw security from the leaders of different political parties in KP is criminal to say the least, especially when Aftab Sherpao Amir Muqam & Mian Iftikhar have already been attacked. Who will be responsible if something untoward happens,” Shehbaz Sharif tweeted on Sunday.