As the country’s entire civilian and military leadership congregates at the Parliament House in the federal capital for an important closed-door briefing on the Abbottabad operation today, extraordinary security measures, including aerial surveillance, will be in place, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The special session of the parliament on Friday (today) was called so that the armed forces could brief the country’s civilian leadership on the details of the US’ unilateral raid into Pakistani territory to find and kill Osama bin Laden on May 1-2.
While the skies around the Parliament house will be patrolled by helicopters, a heavy contingent of Pakistan Rangers and Frontier Constabulary will be deployed to surround the building along with police. Snipers will man nearby buildings. And if all else fails, the Pakistan Army has been put on stand-by.
Those attending the meeting include the prime minister, opposition leaders, other heads of political parties, secretary defence, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, the chief of army staff and the director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Just recently, alarms were set off when a thus-far unreported breach of security of the Parliament House occurred last week.
Reports suggest that a foreign national – said to be Sudanese – was able to enter the premises last week in an apparent bid to survey the security measures.
The matter has been hushed up for now to ensure that there is no panic ahead of today’s important briefing. The enquiry into the matter is being conducted by Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Faisal Karim Kundi.
According to details explored by The Express Tribune, the man was spotted by an MNA just as he was about to leave the premises – but managed to escape capture. The incident was reported by the MNA, who had noted the vehicle number, and the startling breach of security was discovered.
The initial inquiry report into the matter reveals that the man was able to breach the security arrangements using a fake licence plate, and following closely behind the car of an MNA. The security guards, it is said, were under the impression that he car was escorting the MNA’s car – which was not the case.
The guards at the gate say that a gesture by the MNA’s driver was mistakenly taken by them to suggest that the car behind – driven by a ‘foreign national’ – was escorting them. The gesture, it was revealed during interrogation of the driver, was to tell the guards that another MNA was in the car’s back seat.
Security officials involved in the enquiry fear that the man was surveying the premises in a bid to plot to attack the parliament in reaction to the killing of the al Qaeda chief.
Extra security measures have been taken for such events ever since the massive truck bombing of the Marriot in the capital as President Asif Ali Zardari was addressing a joint session of parliament in 2008.
Late on Thursday, security forces were sweeping the area in and around the premises of the Parliament for any explosive devices.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2011.