There is a possibility kidnappers may have carried out a lengthy reconnaissance before abducting US citizen Warren Weinstein, sources told The Express Tribune on Monday.
Ghullam Mehmood Dogar, the deputy inspector general for operations of the Lahore Police, said that the police was recommending to the Punjab home department to “compel all foreigners to get registered with the district police, respective provincial home departments or special branch”.
Dogar said that sponsors of foreigners would be held responsible to get them registered. He said that all foreigners’ residences should “have CCTV cameras, barbed wires, barriers and security guards”.
He said that SHOs would pay a visit to all foreigners’ residence to ensure appropriate security arrangements. He said that if the aforesaid measures were not taken, action would be taken against the sponsor.
Criticising Weinstein for not getting registered with police, he said that it was regrettable because he had been living in Lahore for so many weeks.
Meanwhile, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Noland said at the daily press briefing that Pakistani authorities were investigating the case, adding that the Pakistani authorities were fully cooperating with the FBI and other personnel that the US has on the ground.
An official privy to various developments said there is evidence that the foreign national was abducted after keeping him under surveillance for a very long time. He said that abductors moved to kidnap Weinstein just when Model Town security guards were off for sehri.
Normally Model Town opens only one entrance for J block, but during this Ramazan, security guards opened the gates at 3am. He said that the guards gathered at a local market for sehri around 3:30. He termed the abductors’ move to use Barkat Market as their exit point ironic.
Model Town security in-charge Muhammad Saleem, who is a retired police officer, told The Express Tribune they have not yet been able to gather any evidence or procure any eye witness account.
Local residents, he said, had been complaining about installation of CCTV cameras, barbed wires and posting of private security guards at “house number 49-J and 68-C”, adding that when they tried to check, the house owners did not cooperate.
Saleem said that they had repeatedly conveyed their concerns to police, without getting any response.
He said that some seven months ago, they had gone to 49-J where they were told the house was being used for non-commercial purpose by one person. He said that no other detail was given. He said that the same was the case with 68-C.
A police official said that their inquiry currently is “revolving around three guards and a driver”. He said that the main reason for that was that all three guards were “well-trained army commandos, the question is why didn’t they retaliate? Or mount a credible defence”. He said that police do not have any other leads in this regard. He said that police was also awaiting for abductors to make any contact.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that Weinstein had not been threatened and was working legally in the country, a colleague told AFP on condition of anonymity on Monday.
“We are unclear why Weinstein was kidnapped. We don’t know what the motives are,” said a senior Pakistani employee at JE Austin Associates, a Virginia-based consultancy firm for which the American works.
When asked to comment about claims that Weinstein did not inform Pakistani authorities about his presence in Lahore, the colleague said: “Weinstein was staying here legally. The authorities should have been aware of his presence.”
(Additional input from AFP and reporting by Huma Imtiaz in Washington)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.