Muharram security

Published August 1, 2022

WITH the start of the month of Muharram, authorities throughout the country will need to remain extra vigilant to ensure that religious observances — especially during the first 10 days of the month — pass off peacefully. The biggest security challenge is of course ensuring that the thousands of majalis and mourning processions organised countrywide are held in an atmosphere free of terror and violence, as these religious gatherings have been attacked numerous times over the past few decades, especially after the country witnessed an uptick in sectarian violence in the 1980s. The usual administrative steps entail banning the entry into cities of preachers known to fan hatred, as well as liaising with ulema to ensure Muharram is observed peacefully. But the state will need to keep a particular eye on social media, as it is in cyberspace where malevolent elements can play havoc with public peace by uploading inflammatory content.

The number of sectarian attacks and targeted killings has indeed come down. However, this does not mean that the authorities can become complacent. After all, the savage bombing of a Shia mosque in Peshawar’s Koocha Risaldar area in March — believed to have been the handiwork of IS — is a painful reminder of the fact that terrorist groups still have the means to spill the blood of innocents on a mass scale. And considering the safe space IS and TTP fighters — who share a sectarian worldview — have in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, the state must monitor the border areas to ensure terrorist operatives are not able to enter the country. Intelligence agencies should also be on the lookout for sectarian actors and their sympathisers within Pakistan. Lastly, whilst in earlier decades localised flare-ups could be quickly addressed, social media has ensured that hate material and provocative content can spread across cyberspace within no time. That is why the state and social media firms need to immediately shut down any accounts spreading hate material, while ulema must also play their role to keep the peace.

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Punjab crisis
01 Dec, 2022

Punjab crisis

ADMINISTRATIVE chaos has ruled Punjab ever since the ouster of the PTI government in April, deepening the...
Quetta attack
01 Dec, 2022

Quetta attack

It would be foolishness of the highest order were the authorities to ignore the emerging threat.
World AIDS Day
01 Dec, 2022

World AIDS Day

AS countries mark World AIDS Day on Dec 1, a timely report from Unicef has renewed concerns about the severe...
A call for bloodshed
30 Nov, 2022

A call for bloodshed

The state has wasted precious time by not consolidating its success in pushing TTP out of its strongholds in the north.
Missing childhoods
30 Nov, 2022

Missing childhoods

THE fact is that despite some legal efforts to end the curse of child marriage taking place in Pakistan under the...
Unemployment concerns
30 Nov, 2022

Unemployment concerns

THE ILO finding that labour market recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, as in many other...