Mar 5, 2009

Lahore commissioner admits to ‘security lapses’

The Commissioner of Lahore, Mr Khusro Pervez, has admitted to a huge security failure which led to the attack on the Sri Lankan team in the city’s busy Gulberg area on Tuesday. Speaking Exclusively to NewsEye on DawnNews he said: ‘There are certain security lapses which are very vivid and very clear.’ Lahore’s biggest police station is located just two hundred yards away from the scene terrorist attack; there is another one just over a kilometer away in the Ghalib Market area.
The assault lasted 20 to 30 minutes but no reinforcements came. When this was pointed out to the Commissioner he said: ‘The gunmen were meant to be combated by backup police support, which didn't arrive’. He went on: ‘All convoys are provided outer cordons, but in this case the outer cordon did not respond, or it was not enough. The vehicles used for escorting the Sri Lankan convoy were not adequate.’
The Commissioner’s frank interview comes as Chris Broad, the referee, who heroically shielded injured umpire Ahsan Raza from further injury slammed the security provided saying; they were abandoned and left like ‘sitting ducks’. The Commissioner went on: ‘The top priority of the police escorts with the Sri Lankan team was to protect them and transport them to a safe location, not to combat the gunmen.’
When NewsEye asked why surrounding areas were not put on lockdown to hunt down the attackers, he said: ‘Lahore is very difficult to put under curfew; so instead we decided to chase the assailants using information of their escape routes’.
Khusro Pervaiz assured DawnNews: ‘We accept the tragic security failure and we will learn from it’. The Sri Lankan team was promised ‘presidential level’ security. Khusro Pervaiz says they were given VVIP level security. The attack came a few days into Governor Rule in the province which led to several changes in the Lahore police set-up. Critics say this was what led to the oversight and security failure.
Asked who should be held accountable for the security failure Khusro Pervaiz said that is for the government’s investigation team to determine.

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