Over the last fortnight the security presence in Lahore has increased significantly, after a spate of bombings rocked Pakistan’s second largest city and other parts of the country too in February. The Gaddafi Stadium, situated in the Nishtar sports complex, has been off limits to the general public over the last three days. On March 5, however, it won’t be.
An estimated 18,000 tickets have already been sold for the PSL final between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators – a full house is expected on Sunday – as the PCB attempts to bring high-profile cricket involving some overseas players back to Pakistan.
Though the PSL had maintained from the start that this year’s final would be held in Pakistan, the bombings over the last month had caused uncertainty. At least 13 people were killed and more than 80 injured in a blast near the Punjab assembly in Lahore on February 13, while more than 80 died after a bomb went off at a shrine in the Sindh province on February 16.
To safeguard the PSL final, over 10,000 security personnel have been deployed, including Punjab police, and Pakistan’s paramilitary force – Rangers. The Nishtar Park compound has been protected by huge metal gates, and spectators will be able to enter the Gaddafi Stadium only after three layers of security checks, some of which take place at a two-kilometre protective perimeter around the venue. The first layer of checks – after the five areas marked for parking – can be passed only after verification of the person’s original national identity card.