Ashura observed in Pakistan, cellphone services resumption begins

Updated November 15, 2013

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Mourners raise their hands during a Muharram mourning procession. — Photo by INP
Mourners raise their hands during a Muharram mourning procession. — Photo by INP

KARACHI: Cellphone services began resumption on Friday in Multan, Gilgit, Quetta, Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore and various other areas of the country after Ashura was observed in most cities and small towns across the country.

The main procession in Karachi ended on Friday. Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah visited and reviewed the security arrangements of the final procession and lauded the efforts of Sindh Police and Rangers for maintaining the law and order situation.

Moreover, the provincial government of Sindh extended for two days the province wide ban imposed on pillion riding.

The Ashura processions also concluded in other cities of the country.

Authorities have also decided that cellphone services would remain suspended in Rawalpindi until Sunday keeping in view the tense situation prevailing in the city.

Authorities had decided that cellphone services would remain suspended in 80 cities in the country on 9th and 10th of Muharram as part of security arrangements made for the observance of Ashura.

Unprecedented security arrangements were in place in cities and towns across the country as Ashura was observed to pay homage to Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA).

Zuljana and Taazia processions were taken out in several cities and small towns and majalis were being held across the country to pay tributes to the martyrs of Karbala.

In Karachi, the main procession was taken out from Nishtar Park and several other small processions were taken out from parts of the city.

Security was particularly strict in the four provincial capitals and Islamabad, to ward off any untoward incident during the observance of Ashura, the day of Hussain's martyrdom.

Army, police and paramilitary personnel were also placed on high alert and deployed at sensitive places, particularly in Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Hangu, Gilgit, Jhang, Bahawalpur, Bhakkar and other cities and towns of southern Punjab.

The arrangements appear to be stricter this year because of threats posed by militants in the wake of killing of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone attack in North Waziristan and a member of Taliban’s Haqqani group, Nasiruddin, in Islamabad.

Most of the roads leading to bazaars, cantonment areas, Imambargahs, important buildings and residences of VIPs all over the country remained closed.

In some cities, police also directed transporters not to bring their vehicles on the road. The authorities have also decided to keep private vehicles at a considerable distance from the routes of main processions. Special parking lots have been set up. Pillion-riding has already been banned in many cities for the 9th and 10th of Muharram.

The routes of main Ashura processions were sealed in some cities and walk-through gates were put in place. Mourners were being allowed to join the processions only after a thorough body search by security personnel and volunteers.

Rangers and other security personnel were also deployed on roofs of buildings and houses along the routes of processions. Besides, close-circuit TV cameras were also installed at important places.