LAHORE - The by-polls in Lahore’s NA-120 constituency ended peacefully with no violence despite rising political temperature in the metropolis. Last week, the mega cricket series involving international players also concluded at the Gaddafi Stadium amid much fanfare.

The Lahore police won both the political and cricket matches by ensuring foolproof security arrangements in the wake of threat alerts. Obviously, the successful cricket series in Pakistan will send a message of peace to the world besides opening gates for international cricket on local grounds.

Tens of thousands of police were put on their toes. All types of leaves for the police personnel were cancelled. All police officers, right from the capital city police officer to a foot constable, were seen in the field to monitor the security situation.

Dozens of patrol squads, anti-riot units and quick response force personnel were mobilised to implement the security plan. Paramilitary troops and counterterrorism department officials were also engaged in one of the biggest security operations in addition to the provincial police.

Lahore’s SP Security Ibadat Nisar on Sunday told The Nation that there were no fighting or clashes reported during the polling day. “It all happened peacefully. The voting remained smooth. Except sloganeering by political activists, there was no clash or fighting throughout the day,” the officer said.

Hundreds of paramilitary troops were also deployed around the polling stations in NA-120 to keep the situation under control amid rising political temperatures in the constituency. At least 8,000 police were deployed to ensure peaceful voting. Polling began at 08:00am and ended at 05:00pm.

A day earlier, Capital City Police Officer Amin Wains had said the code of conduct of the Election Commission of Pakistan would be implemented in letter and spirit. “No candidate will be allowed to move with armed private guards during the election. There will be zero tolerance for those displaying or carrying weapons and those indulging in aerial firing,” he said.

DIG Haider Ashraf said at least 8,000 police, including six SPs, 18 DSPs and 46 SHOs, had been deployed to perform security duties on the polling day. He said that dozens of Police Response Units, Dolphin Squads and Elite Police Force vehicles remained on patrol in the city to maintain peace during the polling.

Ashraf explained that 220 polling stations in the constituency were divided into five zones. A police officer of SP rank was in-charge of each zone, he said. He thanked voters and supporters of political parties for extending cooperation to the law enforcement agency in implementing the code of conduct. All major political parties had fielded their candidates for the by-election.

On the other hand, police had spread a massive security blanket across Lahore for the Independence Cup 2017. Paramilitary troops were assisting the law enforcement agency in security and combing operations on a daily basis during the last week during the cricket tournament. Counter-Terrorism Department personnel and police launched door-to-door searches in residential and commercial areas located near the Gaddafi Stadium and around the hotel where foreign players were staying.

High power lights were installed with heavy generators on both sides of players’ route from the hotel to the stadium as part of the security plan. Similarly, police commandoes were deployed in different enclosures after special briefings so that they would handle cricket fans politely during the checking. Also, the Safe City Authority was directed to keep an eye on all kinds of activities around the stadium and on the route from hotel to stadium.

No less than 1,000 CCTV cameras were made operational in the provincial capital. Helicopters were seen hovering over the sky during the movement of Pakistan and World XI players from hotel to Gaddafi Stadium. A senior official of the Punjab Safe City Authority told reporters that more than 200 CCTV cameras were activated only on the route of the players (from hotel to stadium) to monitor every object from the central control rooms.

All (CCTV) cameras installed in Lahore as part of the Safe City Authority project were made operational. Dozens of officials worked in different shifts at the police operation rooms to ensure round-the-clock monitoring of several city roads. Four special surveillance vehicles were deployed around the stadium for security monitoring.

City police, citing security reasons, closed several major roads in Lahore for the weeklong cricket series. Police commandoes, patrol squads and anti-riot units were seen patrolling on major city roads while several police reserves were put on standby. A good number of plainclothesmen were deployed at various points to keep a vigilant eye on the activities of the suspected persons.

Also, DIG Haider Ashraf appreciated the city police for ensuring best security arrangements for the cricket series and by-polls. He said that every policeman played his role to make this event a success. “We did a lot of homework. Our personnel were performing their duties passionately during the cricket series. City police accepted cricket security as a challenge and made the mega cricket series a complete success,” Ashraf added. He said that every person was allowed access to the stadium after physical search at three levels. The police department provided food and water bottles to policemen on duty at various points. The DIG said that city police department took several important steps to ensure smooth and safe passage for the motorcades of the cricket team.

Hundreds of traffic officers and policemen from other Punjab districts were called in to help city police department meet the staff shortage in Lahore. Several high-tech police operation rooms were activated in addition to the control rooms being operated from the headquarters of the Punjab Safe City Authority.

Meanwhile, Chief Traffic Officer SSP Rai Ijaz Ahmad appreciated the traffic officers and wardens for performing their duties efficiently during the cricket series. The officer said that traffic officers and wardens set an excellent example of love and peace by giving warm welcome to the cricket fans. The wardens also welcomed citizens by distributing flowers and gifts to them. He lauded the wardens for ensuring smooth flow of vehicular traffic on city roads during the Pakistan XI vs World XI cricket series. He said that police effectively implemented a traffic plan to avoid traffic mess across Lahore, particularly around Gaddafi Stadium.