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August 4, 2013

Pakistan: Military takes security of Airports, Prisons and Defence Installations



[The Nation]

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Army has taken security control of the major airports, prisons and more than 100 defence installations located across the country that have been marked as ‘high priority targets’ of any terrorist activity in the concluding days of the Islamic month of Ramazan.

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), General Headquarters, air and naval bases, five international airports and central jails in the provincial capitals and other cities are “highest order of security threats”, according to informed military officials.

The officials referred to an intelligence alert issued by the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence on Wednesday, a day after Dera Ismail Khan jailbreak, to warn the provincial governments and federal authorities of growing terrorism threats in the interior Sindh. The Karachi-based factions of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are said to have moved to different parts of interior Sindh to skip the Sindh Rangers-launched crackdowns in the cosmopolitan city.

Reportedly, the intelligence alert classifies the central prisoners in Larkana, Nawabshah and Sukkur as being under threat. “To avoid crackdowns, militants had an easy way out in past, to flee to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or tribal areas. This is becoming increasingly difficult due to military operations in northwestern parts. Interior Sindh is the replacement,” the military sources shared. “The presence of such elements in remote areas is hardly noticed.”

Furthering on the security threats, the sources said that chances of any untoward incident run alarmingly high on Ramazan 25, 27 and 29 respectively falling on Sunday (today), Tuesday and Thursday. Among the civilian installations, they said, the five joint user international airports (jointly operated by the Civil Aviation Authority and Pakistan Air Force) located in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta as well as the central jails in Peshawar, Haripur, Dera Ismail Khan, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sargodha and Karachi are also highly vulnerable to the terrorist attacks.

Compared to the last year’s reportedly six-tier security strategy in the ending days of Ramazan, a 12-tier security plan has been put in place which categorises the security arrangements under three field specifications which involve ground troops deployment and aerial and intelligence units support, the officials said.

The military’s Defence Services Guards (DSG), respective infantry divisions, commandos from Special Services Group (SSG), the army-led Airport Security Force, Rangers, Frontier Corps, Levies and police (including Police Constabulary in KP) would provide ground support to be augmented by the aerial security surveillance from the Army Aviation Corps and the Air Defence Command (ADC) of the Pakistan Air Force, and intelligence support from the field intelligence units (FIUs) and the ISI.

During last Ramazan, six-tier security arrangements were reportedly implemented to guard the Joint Staff Headquarters, GHQ and army’s field installations – including the headquarters of the nine operational corps, two operational commands and 28 divisions. These arrangements reportedly oversaw the deployment of the infantry divisions concerned, DSG, SSG commandos and air support and surveillance from AAC and ADC.

The security layers have been twice increased keeping in view the major security lapse at a PAF base last year. The PAF Kamra base had come under deadly terrorist attack on Ramazan 27 in 2012 resulting in the destruction of an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), a highly expensive and technologically equipped aircraft.

In December 2012, the PAF Base Peshawar came under massive attack while in the terror incidents this Ramazan include a suicide attack that killed 57 people in Parachinar and DI Khan jail attack wherein the Taliban managed to get 253 inmates out of the jail.

Apart from that, the armed force defence installations including those of PAF and Pakistan Navy are guarded under the ‘homogenous’ security arrangement. In the last Ramazan, the PAF and PN had guarded their respective installations while military was mostly involved in the security provision to the army installations, airports and defence production facilities. The joint user airports are jointly guarded by the PAF and military, 26 of the 43 operational airports are mainly secured by the Pakistan Army. The remaining 17 are non-operational.

Besides the 18 air and seven naval bases that were marked as high priority targets last year and this year too, following are some other defence installations facing maximum security threats: PAEC, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Air Weapons Complex (AWC), Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC), Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT), Heavy Industries Taxila Educational City (HITEC), Chashma Nuclear Power Plant (CHASNUPP), Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DESTO), Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL), Pakistan Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH), Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL), Dera Ghazi Khan Uranium Mine, Golra Ultracentrifuge Plant, Daud Khel Chemical Plant, Pakistan Ordnance Factories (Havelian and Wahh Cantt), Gadwal Uranium Enrichment Plant, Goth Machchi Nitrogen Fertiliser Plant, Havelian Explosives and Ammunition Plant, Hawkes Bay Depot, Khushab Reactor, Khewra Soda Ash Plant, Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (SUPARCO), Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) Rawalpindi, Haripur Nitrogen Fertiliser Plant, Lahore Weapons Plant and Karachi Superphos Fertiliser Plant.

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