Themorningbellbd.com desk, May 5: The capital (Islamabad) of Pakistan was on ‘high alert’ on Wednesday following a possible terrorist threat to the city, with the Red Zone declared a prime target.
‘High alert’ was declared following an alert issued by security agencies that militants may target sensitive locations in the Red Zone, particularly two hotels. One of these hotels houses a business centre within which UN and foreign embassies’ offices operate.
Officials said they were informed that in addition to the Red Zone, there may also be an attack on an educational institute. They were told that militants may target educational institutes – particularly universities – to attract the attention of law enforcement and security agencies, and then follow with an attack within the Red Zone.
Educational institutions searched, security heightened after threat to universities, Red Zone
In response, security around the capital was heightened and a number of checkpoints were installed on various roads. Educational institutions were searched, and some were also vacated. A contingent of police and Rangers was deployed in and around the institutes.
Some of the institutes were partially sealed, and students, staff and faculty members were denied entry.
An official said, on condition of anonymity, that the state of ‘high alert’ would continue, but a timeframe cannot be given in this regard.
Educational activities suspended
Educational activities were suspended at the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) due to the security threat, while law enforcement agencies conducted a detailed search of the university.
Security at various universities, including Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), National University of Science and Technology (Nust) and National University of Modern Languages (Numl), was also heightened.
Sources at QAU told Dawn that police and Ranger personnel conducted a search operation in the QAU hostels and the university’s adjoining areas, including nearby villages, at midnight on Tuesday. The university bus service was suspended on the recommendation of security agencies.
The university entrance was also blocked by the police for anyone other than university employees, who were only allowed to enter after providing identification. The AIOU administration also did not run its bus service.
Sources said police recently met with the heads of various education institutions regarding a new security threat. QAU, Nust and AIOU were directed to heighten their security arrangements, and police and Rangers also searched some buildings in these universities.
The AIOU vice chancellor, Dr Shahid Siddiqui, told Dawn they did not run their bus service on Wednesday on advice from law enforcement personnel. A Nust official said security at the university is also on ‘high alert’ both within and outside the campus. The official said security was heightened, but educational activities were not suspended.
QAU Academic Staff Association (ASA) president Dr Asif Ali told Dawn that educational activities were suspended throughout the day. He said the university has faced many threats, but does not even have a proper boundary wall due to encroachments on the varsity’s land.