LAHORE: The federal government has appointed a senior police official serving in BS-18 as security officer for ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in a deviation from the standard practice.
According to the standard operating procedure mentioned in the ‘Blue Book’, only the sitting prime minister and the president are entitled to the services of a BS-18 officer of the rank of superintendent of police (SP).
However, the government has allowed Mr Sharif to avail this privilege.
A notification issued by the Establishment Division on Aug 4 said: “Muhammad Zeshan Reza, a BS-18 officer of Police Service of Pakistan, presently posted as chief security officer (CSO) to the prime minister, has been transferred and posted as security officer to the former PM with immediate effect till further orders.”
Interestingly, another SP-ranked officer is already heading a force of 1,100 highly-trained personnel from Lahore police’s security division at Mr Sharif’s Jati Umra residence in Raiwind.
According to sources, the Punjab police authorities were in a state of confusion over whether Mr Sharif, after his disqualification as prime minister, was entitled to a security cover by two senior officers.
Lahore Capital City Police Officer retired Capt Amin Wains refused to comment on the issue, terming it a federal matter. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and provincial government spokesman Malik Ahmad neither answered phone calls nor responded to text messages on the issue.
Speaking to Dawn, senior police officials termed it a “first decision of its kind”. One of them said it appeared to be a ‘violation’ of the standard operating procedures laid down in the Blue Book for the security of the president and the prime minister.
He said the Blue Book, which was a classified document, spelled out a comprehensive security plan followed during VVIP movements, especially those of the president and the prime minister.
“The posting of a SP-ranked police officer is beyond the standard practice since it is allowed only to a sitting prime minister.”
The official said Mr Reza was serving as CSO for Mr Sharif in Islamabad when he was the prime minister and now he had been asked to do the same job even after his disqualification.
He said four former prime ministers in the country had a security cover which was far less than that offered to Mr Sharif.
According to the standard practice, he said, former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had been provided two elite police vans with personnel. Chaudhry Shujaat had also hired a former army major for his security, the official said.
Another former prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, had four elite force squads, he said, adding that two other ex-premiers had similar security privileges but none of them had been provided an official of SP rank.