- A security official says it may be a part of SOPs
A day after a suicide bomber exploded his vest in Lahore, killing 15 including two senior police officers and injuring over a hundred others, the Home Department of Punjab has issued a threat alert about possible terrorist activities against CPEC projects, Chinese nationals, sensitive buildings and installations.
In a notification issued by the department to all chief executive officers, the government of Punjab referred to a threat alert-022 about terrorist activities against CPEC projects in Pakistan on February 14, 2017, and stated that the targets may include health and educational departments in Pakistan by hardened terrorists belonging to terrorist groups having links to the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Uyghur Muslims and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) who are returning from Iraq and Syria after defeat of the Islamic State group.
“… the provincial intelligence centre (PIC), home department, the government of Punjab, has intimated that a large number of ‘hardened militants’ including Uyghurs from Xinjiang province, China, are returning from Syria and Iraq to Indonesia, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” reads the threat alert, a copy of which is available with Pakistan Today.
”… there is a possibility of attacks by ETIM and IMU with active involvement of foreign terrorist organisations Mubashar Group and BLA. It is also learnt that firearms, IEDs, knives and vehicle ramming tactics etc would be used against soft targets and CPEC,” reads the threat letter.
“It has been desired that all vital installations including important buildings, hospitals and schools may be kept under strict vigilance. The health department has been directed to be vigilant and ensure that strict security arrangements are made for medical facilities and hospitals and a report is submitted with the competent authority,” the letter added.
China has time and again reached out to its strategic ally, Pakistan, sharing its concerns about the security of its citizens working on various CPEC projects across Pakistan. An official source said that the terrorists were planning to attack soft targets. “There is no need for panic. This alert may be a part of routine information being shared with the various departments. This is a part of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) in place whenever any intelligence report is shared,” the official said.
The official said that Pakistan has the capacity and capability to deal with any threat. Pakistan has established Special Security Division (SSD) to protect projects linked to the much-hyped CPEC. In January 2017, the Ministry of Interior issued a notification about raising of the SSD to be assigned the duty of protecting projects under CPEC and Chinese workers working on these projects. The Division will comprise nine army battalions and six civil wings having 13,700 personnel, the notification added. China has already expressed satisfaction on the security arrangements during the recent sixth Joint Cooperation Committee meeting held in Beijing.
Moreover, State Commissioner for Counter Terrorism and Security of the Peoples’ Republic of China, Cheng Guoping, recently visited Pakistan and held important consultations regarding the security of the CPEC projects and Chinese nationals working in Pakistan. During his meetings with Advisors to PM Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatemi, Cheng Guoping discussed a range of issues of bilateral interest as well as developments in the region.