The Punjab government is likely to withdraw officials of the Elite Police Force (EPF) from security duties with Very Very Important Personalities (VVIPs).
A committee headed by the chief secretary has approved the move in light of the rising criticism of the force’s VVIP security duties, an official requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune.
Another official said the government would amend Article 19-A of the Police Rules of 1934 in order to restrict the EPF to its original mandate of countering terrorism and crime in the province. He said the Home Department was in process of seeking chief minister’s approval for the move. Once the chief minister sanctioned the changes, he said, additional supervisory posts would be created in the force and its organisational structure revised.
He said a separate force will be formed to look after the security of VVIPs including the governor, politicians, judicial officers and foreigners residing in the province.
The EPF was established during Shabaz Sarhif’s previous term in office (1997-1998). Besides counter terrorism, the force was meant to take action against serious crime. However, in 2004, security duties with the VVIPs were added to the Elite Force’s tasks.
The official said the force was fast losing its credibility as specialists in combating terrorism and serious crime because of excessive focus on security of VVIPs.
In May 2010, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had held the administration of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi responsible for ‘damaging’ the Elite Force by assigning VVIP security duties to its officials. He was speaking at the passing out ceremony of the 12th training course at Elite Police Training School, Bedian.
In Lahore alone, 660 Elite Force officials are currently performing security duties with VVIPs including Governor Latif Khosa and his family, Sharif, Chaudhry and Gillani families, judicial officers and foreigners.
At least 300 officials have been assigned for security of Sharif family. Another 125 are performing security duties with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s family and 50 with the family of Senior Minister Pervaiz Elahi.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2011.