'Thorough' checks: Police collect data of residents ahead of October 18 rally

Owners of houses that may be used for terrorist activity warned of arrests, fines.

Faraz Khan October 11, 2014


If you are the unfortunate owner of a house that suspects use for any terrorist activity ahead of the October 18 rally at the Quaid's mazaar, then you will be forced to pay a fine of Rs. 200,000 apart from spending time behind bars.

The law enforcement agencies are covering all grounds as they carry out security checks for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) rally being planned for October 18. The party's patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is expected to launch his political career yet again at the rally which is being held the same day as his mother, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, returned to Pakistan after a long exile.

In order to ensure fool-proof security, the police have started collecting the data of all residents living in the neighbourhoods on the VIP routes marked for the day of the jalsa. Even those living close to the rally venue are being checked for details of their family members, guests and relatives.

After collecting the data of the occupants, the policeman also takes an undertaking from the residents, residential unions and neighbourhood associations for assurance, explained a senior officer of the police intelligence branch. The person or union signing the undertaking commit that they will be responsible of any suspicious activity that takes place within their premises, he added.

"We will charge them under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and they will also pay a penalty of Rs200,000 to the Government of Pakistan," the senior officer explained.

According to him, only those houses located on the front side of the VIPs routes, such as Sharae Faisal and Sharae Quaideen, are being surveyed at the moment. Sensitive areas, such as Khudadad Colony and Lines Area, are being surveyed completely. Partial surveys have also been conducted in parts of districts East and South, such as MA Jinnah Road, Peoples Chowrangi, Preedy Street, Jahangir Road, Jamshed Quarters, Patel Para, Nursery and Soldier Bazaar.

The officer said they cannot estimate the number of houses they will survey yet as the work is still under way. "The survey will take a few more days but most likely around 3,000 houses and apartments are likely to be surveyed."

The police claimed this is not the first time they are carrying out such a survey as they follow the same protocol before the Muharram processions. "After this survey, no one [militants] will be able to achieve their goals," hoped the senior police officer.

Residents' reaction

Once the local police officers leave the house after a survey, residents have been getting follow-up visits from officers of the Crime Investigation Department and the Special Branch. "They [law enforces] are treating us like terrorists," complained a Lines Area resident, Imran Ahmed.  But there are others who are happy to see the police are being so thorough. "It is fair to ask us about our family details, how long we've been living here, our source of income," said Talha Ali, who lives in a residential flat on MA Jinnah Road. "This will help us too."

Security plan

The police have started collecting data of the residents in order to maintain an active database for the future as well. "Often militants stay in adjacent areas before they carry out terrorist activities," said DSP Rahim Shah. "There are serious security threats and we cannot take it lightly."

According to the security plan, the parking facility will be set up at one spot, nearly two kilometres away from the rally site. Walkthrough metal detectors, security cameras and jammers will also be installed. The police's K-9 dog unit and bomb disposal squad will also sweep the VIP route, the parking area and the rally venue before the big day.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2014.


Hassan | 7 years ago | Reply

Wish Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto would have alive today, he would have protected the grace of Bhutto family from Zardarism. Corruption, killing and now people dying of liquor (sharab) are shaheed. May God give them some sense of responsibility. @Liberal_Pak - Bilawal itself have admitted that they have done mistakes and its understood what they have done to their own people who are angry with the party. What are you talking about ??? Nothing personal but your comments are joke to me and to this nation. Bilawal needs more container and protection as if Karachi (not interior) people show up, he will be honor with shoes on his face.

Asif | 7 years ago | Reply

Who cares for PPP

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