Zardari may get special US guards for security in backdrop of Taseer's assassination

Islamabad, Jan 19(ANI): In the aftermath of Pakistan Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer's assassination by his own police guard, a proposal to bring in special security guards from the United States for President Asif Ali Zardari is under consideration, according to highly-placed sources.

While Zardari's security has always been a cause of serious concern for Pakistani authorities, a larger proposal is also under consideration by the government to hire the services of foreign security guards for a number of VVIPs, including the prime minister, provincial governors, chief ministers, and a few federal ministers, a source told The Express Tribune.

At present, an army unit, the infamous 111 Brigade, is deployed at the Presidency for the security of the president, while police guards are deployed around the four boundary walls of the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the paper said.

However, Zardari has engaged many private guards from Sindh for his personal security, reflecting his distrust of government-provided security arrangements. There is now a proposal to install US security guards in the innermost security cordon, the source said.

The proposals come as a part of the government's decision to review security arrangements of important personalities following Taseer's shocking assassination, which validated the fears that religious extremism had penetrated the ranks of security forces in Pakistan.

"An overhaul in the present security system has been recommended as an essential requirement by the authorities responsible for the safety and well-being of the VVIPs," the source said.

On a number of occasions, Zardari himself has been quoted as saying in the presence of US diplomats and officials that his life was in danger. He has also been quoted as instructing his son and PPP chairman, Bilawal, to name his sister Faryal Talpur as the party president in case he is killed.

Meanwhile, the police department in Islamabad has collected the detailed data of its personnel after Taseer's murder in Islamabad. The data includes the religious leanings of its personnel and also their family background in terms of affiliations with religious organisations.

Authorities plan to ultimately purge the department of suspect elements, and in this regard, it is learnt that a few police personnel have already been removed from the security set-up. (ANI)

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