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 Govt was warned about attack but did nothing

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: The Crime Investigation Department (CID), Punjab, had accurately warned the Punjab government on Jan 22, 2009 about an Indian plan to target the Sri Lankan cricket team during its visit to Pakistan.

The CID, while referring to a source report, said this terrorist attack would be carried out by the infamous RAW, especially while the Sri Lankan team would be travelling "between the hotel and stadium or at hotel during their stay".

And the incident, which the whole world saw on March 3, precisely happened the same way, raising a hundred-million dollar question as to why the Punjab government, under Governor Salmaan Taseer, let it happen so easily despite a clear warning from the intelligence agencies of the country.

Copy of this fabulous work of the CID, which was wasted by the government in the Punjab in a sheer show of criminal negligence harming the national interest, shows that Additional Inspector General of Police, CID, Punjab, Malik Muhammad Iqbal, shared this report with all concerned in the federal and provincial governments.

The report tagged "SCRET/IMMEDIATE" with subject "SOURCE REPORT" reads: "It has reliably been learnt that RAW (Indian intelligence agency) has assigned its agents the task to target Sri Lankan cricket team during its current visit to Lahore, especially while travelling between the hotel and stadium or at hotel during their stay.

2. It is evident that RAW intends to show Pakistan a security risk state for sports events, particularly when the European and the Indian teams have already postponed their proposed visits considering it a high security risk to visit Pakistan.

3. RAW has also collected photographs of leaders of Jamaatud Daawa (proscribed) and its establishments to target them.

4. Extreme vigilance and heightened security arrangements indicated."

The above report was sent to Syed Kamal Shah, interior secretary, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, Javed Mehmud, Chief Secretary, Punjab, Lahore, Dr Syed Tauqir Shah, Secretary to Chief Minister, Punjab, Lahore, and Nadeem Hassan Asif, Home Secretary, Government of Punjab, Lahore, on Jan 22 with the covering letter of Additional IGP, CID, Punjab, Lahore, Malik Muhammad Iqbal.

The same covering letter also included a note announcing that the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), Lahore, and the Lahore commissioner were being informed separately for necessary action.

The same day on Jan 22, the issue because if its sensitivity was brought into the notice of the then-chief minister Shahbaz Sharif on whose instructions an urgent and confidential note was sent to the IGP Punjab, the Lahore commissioner, the CCPO Lahore, the chief secretary and the home secretary.

On behalf of the chief minister, it was said: "The chief minister has seen the enclosed source report and has desired that every effort may be made for the security of the Sri Lankan cricket team during its current visit to Lahore. He has further desired that extreme vigilance and heightened security arrangement may be made to avert any untoward incident."

On the very next day on Jan 23, a meeting was held on the subject under the chairmanship of commissioner, Lahore, Khusro Pervaiz Khan, and attended by IB Director Mirza Tamraiz M Khan, DIG (traffic) Muhammad Ghalib Bandesha, Military Intelligence rep Col Saqib, Director ISI (Lahore) Ashraf Khan, DCO, Lahore, Sajjad Ahmad, district emergency officer, Lahore, Dr Ahmad Raza, SP/CID Lahore Azmatullah, Protocol Officer c/o DG Protocol, Lahore, Noorul Hassan, SP (traffic) Lahore Muhammad Asif Khan, SP City Lahore Rana Abdul Jabbar and others.

In the said meeting, the provincial government under Shahbaz Sharif took extremely tight security measures for the one-day international match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which was held on Jan 26, 2009.

Minutes of the meeting, as available with this correspondent, show how minutely the authorities at that time discussed each and every aspect of the terrorism threat and the security measures to be taken.

These minutes show the evolution of a comprehensive security plan and contingency plan to pre-empt the possible threat of terrorism by RAW.

The then-IG, Punjab, Shaukat Javed, personally visited the whole route of the cricket team for the one-day match and even talked to cops deployed there. The then-CCPO, Pervez Rathore, also visited the site more than once.

However, after the recent imposition of governor's rule, not only the chief secretary and the inspector general police were changed but also the whole lot of police officers in Lahore, including the CCPO, SP (operations) and six other SPs, who were replaced by officers some of whom enjoy highly stinking reputation.

There is no explanation offered so far by any government authority as to why the warning of the CID was overlooked this time when the Punjab was ruled by Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer.

A two-day visit of this correspondent to Lahore shows the civilian bureaucracy there talking of how the civilian administration and police have been (mis)used by the provincial administration for political wheeling-dealing since the imposition of governor's rule in the Punjab.

"Keeping in view the CID source report, the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team is a clear FIR against the Punjab governor and his administration," one of these officials commented.

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