Karachi witnesses massive security
By Hasan Mansoor
KARACHI: The city is full of commandos ever since a plane carrying Indian cricket players from Lahore touched Karachi’s soil on Friday afternoon.
The Indian team last saw themselves without extraordinary security around them in New Delhi on Wednesday but since then none of their members could find one alone except for their rooms. They were under protection of special police commandos wearing “No Fear” shirts in Lahore and find similar commandos of the provincial Elite Force here in Karachi.
“The security measures for us are surprising and we see commandos everywhere, around everyone of us, around all of us and we enjoy that,” Indian cricket team skipper, Sourav Ganguly said.
He said Pakistani people are caring and the manner of their hospitability had impressed the Indian cricketers.
The Indians are in Karachi first time since 1997 when the Indians played here a one-day international and defeated the Pakistanis.
They are here again but only for 32 hours. They find no time even for a net practice session let alone enjoying a ride of Pakistan’s largest city along Arabian Sea.
“What we have managed to see yet is our rooms. We are behind a thick security wall but we don’t mind it,” Ganguly said.
“We love to see this wonderful city but a tight schedule does not permit this,” he said.
He referred to the Pakistani team’s last visit to India in 1999 where, according to him a similar sort of security was offered to the Pakistanis led by the greatest left-arm seamer Wasim Akram.
“Such a security is the result of a big gap between our contests with each other. Once we play each other regularly and frequent with each other’s country no such security will require later,” said the left-hand middle order Indian batsman.
The Sindh Police has deputed a special contingent of its Elite Force with a responsibility to provide security to every Indian player and official. These commandos have responsibility to check all the movement.
The chief security officer for the Karachi ODI, Syed Kamal Shah, IGP Sindh, says the security teams had kept all possibilities of law and in the mind and took care of that. The most important is the rehearsal of “evacuation plan,” which the security teams made on Thursday and Friday.
Mr Shah said all possibilities including the crowd disturbance resembling the one that reported in Pak-India Calcutta Test in 1999 had been taken into account.
“We are prepared for all sorts of challenges including this one,” Shah said, adding an “evacuation plan” was the “most serious” arrangement the security officials had made.
“We rehearsed it on Thursday and today (Friday). It certainly works,” Shah said.
He said an overall plan with comprehensive details has “meticulously” been formulated and thousands of personnel of the police and paramilitary Rangers were waiting for go-ahead signal to implement it.
A total of 25 superintendents of police and around 70 deputy superintendents would be supervising the event with thousands of policemen on their disposal.
Each of the fourteen gates of the National Stadium would be manned by one DSP. The outer cordon of the playground has been divided into four security zones and one SP would be responsible for security of each zone.
Any stuff or food that can be thrown will not be allowed to carry inside the stadium.
The latest communication facilities have also been acquired especially for the event.
“We have acquired special cell phones from a mobile phone company, which would be used as intercom systems needing only two digits to press,” a senior police official said.
Besides, the officials would also have their personal mobile phones and wireless systems.
Army officials have been involved in the swiping system in and on the entrances of the stadium. Sniffer dogs have been acquired and bomb disposal experts have been engaged.
The aerial surveillance has already been started and a police helicopter is being used for the purpose, Mr Shah said.
“We have used all our resources to make the event peaceful and enjoyable both,” Mr Shah said. The Karachi city nazim, Naimatullah Khan, however, made an announcement that has panicked many cricket fans. Mr Khan said the gates of the National Stadium would be closed after 8am, an hour before start of the match.
“This is an utter injustice and a violation of personal liberties of citizens,” a cricket fan, Ashraf Pasha said. “Once I have bought a ticket, it is up to me whether I join the party in the morning, in afternoon or evening and no one has right to make me bound to enter the playground,” he said.