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Pak police officer had directed security clearance

Islamabad: A top Pakistani police officer had issued a direction for conducting a fresh security clearance of all personnel of the Elite Force less than a month before Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by one of his bodyguards from the anti-terrorism unit.

The Additional Inspector General of the Elite Force, in a letter sent to Rawalpindi`s Chief Police Officer on December 11, had issued an order for conducting the security clearance of personnel assigned to guard VVIPs and senior officials.

The letter, which was accessed by Geo News channel, noted that a large number of Elite Force personnel were assigned to guard the Prime Minister and other VVIPs.

"Before their deployment on security duty with any VVIP, the security clearance must be carried out through the concerned agencies," the letter said.

The Chief Police Officer was asked to carry out the security clearance of personnel currently deployed with police officials and other VVIPs "through the concerned agencies in bare minimum time".

Only personnel who had received security clearance should be deployed with VVIPs and they should be "rotated periodically", the letter said.

Taseer, a leader of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party and a close confidant of President Asif Ali Zardari, was gunned down by 26-year-old Mumtaz Qadri, a police guard from the Elite Force.

Qadri said he killed the Governor for criticising the blasphemy law.

Qadri had been removed from the Special Branch some years ago after a senior official determined he was a "security risk" because of his extremist leanings.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Qadri had acted alone or was part of a conspiracy.

Reports have said Qadri had told several colleagues of his plan to kill Taseer.

Questions have been raised as to why other members of Taseer`s security detail did not stop Qadri or fire at him when he began shooting at the Governor.

In the wake of the assassination, authorities across Pakistan have been conducting background checks on policemen assigned to guard VIPs.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which has been hit by a Taliban insurgency, the Special Branch is vetting 400 policemen who guard VIPs, officials said.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said the government will make psychiatric evaluations mandatory during the recruitment of security personnel to "check their mental health and leanings".

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