ISLAMABAD: The government has directed foreigners to keep local police stations informed about their whereabouts following the recent surge in kidnapping cases, officials said on Sunday.
The new directions have come two weeks after the kidnapping of a US citizen, Warren Weinstein, in Lahore. “The government is stepping up its efforts to ensure the security of foreigners,” a senior official in the interior ministry told The Express Tribune. “Foreigners have been asked to register themselves with the local police station,” he added.
The official said that the police will provide security to all the foreigners who will get themselves registered. “Special arrangements will only be made for such foreigners, not all,” he said.
Former interior secretary Tasneem Noorani said that it is the home ministry’s responsibility to protect foreigners by providing them trained security guards. “In case of any urgency, sometimes the foreigners are asked to hire the services of security agencies registered with the interior ministry,” he said.
When asked why foreigners do not follow these instructions, he said, “They do not trust the police.”
The interior ministry’s spokesperson said that the government is concerned over the rising incidents of kidnapping. Quoting a report prepared by intelligence agencies which stated that foreigners have been visiting prohibited areas without permission, he said the ministry has issued a circular to all the foreign missions in this regard.
According to ministry statistics, around 3,000 foreigners are currently working in various diplomatic missions. The US is at top of the list with 879 workers. With 211 officials, the UK takes the second spot. Around 5,000 foreign students are also studying in various educational institutions in Pakistan.
Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said she will check with the departments concerned about fresh calls for enhancing foreigners’ security.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2011.