Islamabad: Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province has issued a security alert over possible attacks by the Islamic State militants on sensitive civil and military installations, a media report said on Saturday.
Citing intelligence, the Punjab Home Department alerted police and other agencies in the province that the ISIS has planned attacks on civil and military targets, Dawn reported.
Quoting its sources, the paper said, in view of the threat level, divisional police chiefs and the Counter-Terrorism Department have been directed to undertake “foolproof security measures”.
“Police patrols, military vehicles and private establishments are supposedly on the hit list of militants affiliated with IS, also known as ISIS or Daesh,” it said.
These intelligence-based directions contradict the assertions made by the federal government that ISIS has no presence in Pakistan.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, however, described the “threat alert” as being “a routine matter”.
“There is no existence of Daesh in Pakistan, especially in Punjab,” the paper quoted Sanaullah as saying. “There are some troublemakers belonging to banned outfits and the government is making efforts to eliminate these criminals.”
Rawalpindi Regional Police Officer Mohammad Fakhar Sultan Raja, on the other hand, is considering “sensitising private establishments” to the threat alert, to discuss “precautionary measures” soon.
Indeed, the Punjab government’s alert specifically mentioned that IS-affiliated militants are out to strike army vehicles moving on Jalalpur Jattan Road and police patrols on GT Road in Gujrat district.
Intelligence on their plans for private targets was even more specific. It said a group of five terrorists has reached Lahore, and plans to storm private establishments by indiscriminately killing their security guards.
According to an intelligence official, their likely targets could be minorities and foreigners.
Pakistan witnesses several wall-chalking and graffiti in favour of Daesh in the past after some key former Taliban leaders last year joined the group.