Ashura processions taken out across the country amid tight security

Shia Muslims take part in a procession on the tenth day of Ashura in the Islamic month of Muharram, in Lahore on July 29. — AFP
Shia Muslims take part in a procession on the tenth day of Ashura in the Islamic month of Muharram, in Lahore on July 29. — AFP
Children carry religious flags at a mourning procession in Quetta on Youm-i-Ashura on July 29. — Photo provided by Abdullah Zehri
Children carry religious flags at a mourning procession in Quetta on Youm-i-Ashura on July 29. — Photo provided by Abdullah Zehri
An aerial view of a mourning procession in Karachi on Youm-i-Ashura on July 29. — Screengrab from video provided by Imtiaz Ali
An aerial view of a mourning procession in Karachi on Youm-i-Ashura on July 29. — Screengrab from video provided by Imtiaz Ali
Attendees offer prayers at a mourning procession in Quetta on Youm-i-Ashura on July 29. — Photo provided by Abdullah Zehri
Attendees offer prayers at a mourning procession in Quetta on Youm-i-Ashura on July 29. — Photo provided by Abdullah Zehri
Police and law enforcement authorities perform their duties in Karachi on the occassion of Youm-i-Ashura on July 29. — Photo provided by Imtiaz Ali
Police and law enforcement authorities perform their duties in Karachi on the occassion of Youm-i-Ashura on July 29. — Photo provided by Imtiaz Ali

Mourners across the country took out processions to observe Yaum-i-Ashura (Muharram 10) amid tight security arrangements on Saturday, with mobile phone services suspended in some areas to prevent any untoward incident.

Yaum-i-Ashura is observed every year on Muharram 10 with solemnity to pay homage to Imam Husain — the grandson of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and other martyrs of Karbala.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the day reminds us that standing against oppression is the moral duty of a Muslim, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

It further quoted the premier as saying, “Imam Husain’s sacrifice teaches us the priceless lesson of unshakable faith, righteousness and justice.”

The prime minister urged the public to learn from the incident “to deal with the challenges and trials that our nation and the entire Muslim ummah (community) are facing today”.

In a tweet, PM Shehbaz said: “For those oppressed by [the] tyranny of power, Imam [Husain’s] example offers lessons in resistance, endurance and patience, keeping the flame of hope alive in the hearts despite pitch darkness.”

Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi, in his message, said that the companions of Imam Husain “taught us the importance of loyalty, righteousness and supporting those who struggle for truth and justice”, Radio Pakistan reported.

It further quoted him as saying that we should “give up personal luxuries and desires for the greater good of society and [the] betterment of humanity”.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also shared couplets in remembrance of the historic incident.

To ensure the security of Muharram processions across the province, the Punjab government sought the deployment of army and Rangers troops.

The Karachi police also issued a security and traffic management plan for processions, under which 4,698 police personnel were deployed across the city.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, meanwhile, imposed Section 144 in all divisions except Malakand, banning the display and brandishing of arms, pillion riding, use of tinted glass in vehicles and standing of people on rooftops. The ban will remain in place throughout Muharram.

Punjab

Lahore’s main procession set out from Nisar Haveli in the Mohalla Chillah Bibian in the morning and culminated at the Karbala Ghamay Shah Imambargah.

Radio Pakistan said the procession’s route included Kashmiri Bazaar, Masjid Wazir Khan, Rang Mahal, Paniwala Talab, Bazaar Hakiman, Taksali and Bhati Gate.

It further said that the Lahore police made strict security arrangements for the procession and snipers were deployed on the roofs of the buildings along the route.

Meanwhile, Multan Commissioner Aamir Khattak visited different areas of the division, where a total of 284 processions have been taken out, APP reported.

Regional Police Officer Suhail Chaudhry stated that 7,000 police officials were deployed across the Multan division and noted that security arrangements have evolved over time.

The Water and Sanitation Authority (Wasa) put its staff on high alert after Multan received scattered rain, APP said.

Separately, in a statement, Inspector General (IG) Dr Usman Anwar said that more than 125,000 police officials were performing their duties across the province, out of which 15,000 were deployed for the main processions and majlis across Lahore.

He directed the police to ensure strict checking protocols were followed through CCTV monitoring, walkthrough gates and metal detectors.

The IG further said that women police officials were also deployed at the mourning processions along with commandos dressed in plain clothes.

IG Anwar stated that “all field formations — including from Dolphin Squad, Police Response Unit, special branch and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) — were assisting in the security arrangements.

Meanwhile, the traffic police said in a statement that six deputy superintendents of police, 110 traffic inspectors, 140 patrolling officers and 1,390 wardens were deployed at various points across the city.

Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Mustansar Feroze said pillion-riding was banned and participants could park their vehicles at the designated locations as no vehicle would be allowed on the procession route.

However, he added that the routes would be kept open to emergency vehicles (ambulances, fire brigades, etc).

The traffic police’s Twitter account also shared a video of CTO Feroze visiting a procession’s routes and assessing the security there.

The police have also issued a traffic diversion plan detailing alternative routes for the public as various roads have been blocked.

In a statement, Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Bilal Siddique Kamyana said that the police were providing security to 227 majalis along with 18 licensed and 28 unlicensed processions across the city.

He added that six superintendents of police, 34 senior district police officers, 83 station house officers, 166 upper subordinates, women police officials and more than 11,000 police constables performed their duties on the occasion.

CCPO Kamyana further said that the procession attendees were provided with “security based on three-level fencing” and directed the police to ensure water drainage on procession routes in case of rain.

In another statement, he also directed that necessary measures should be taken with the assistance of the authorities concerned to solve sewerage issues and prevent electrocution incidents.

In a tweet, the Punjab government said that Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, accompanied by the IG, visited Pando Street last night where he assessed the security arrangements made for today’s processions.

Karachi and Hyderabad

The main procession in Karachi departed from Nishtar Park and concluded at Hussainiyah Iranian Imambargah in the Kharadar area around 7:30pm after passing through its traditional route via MA Jinnah Road.

Meanwhile, MA Jinnah Road and nearby Baba-e-Urdu Road near MA Jinnah Road, which were closed to traffic at 8:16am due to the Ashura procession, were also opened.

Earlier, the police also said the National Highway was opened for traffic at 3:45pm after it was closed for traffic at 3:05pm.

Referring to a press release it had issued earlier, the police said the traffic was being diverted to the alternative routes mentioned therein.

According to state-run APP, scouts assisted the police and Rangers who were deployed for the procession’s security while a team of the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) had also conducted a check on the route earlier.

Separately, in a statement, Sindh IG Ghulam Nabi Memon directed the police to keep a vigilant eye on the shops and godowns that were sealed on the procession routes.

He further said that the snipers and commandos positioned on the rooftops of tall buildings would remain alert while the “physical searching” of the procession attendees should be ensured.

IG Memon also directed for the security on the routes leading to Sindh from other provinces to be heightened

While asserting that he would review the security arrangements himself, the IG ordered for the protection of citizens, who would return to their homes late, to be ensured.

IG Memon further said that the security duties should be determined through “by-name deployment and security measures”.

He added that patrolling, random snap-checking, advanced intelligence collection and timely response and follow-up on information should be made very concrete and coordinated across Sindh.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah conducted an aerial assessment of the security arrangements in Hyderabad.

He was accompanied by IG Memon while provincial minister Jam Khan Shoro, Hyderabad Mayor Kashif Shoro, Deputy Mayor Saghir Ahmed and Commissioner Bilal Memon welcomed them upon reaching there.

He conducted a meeting there with the city administration, where Hyderabad Deputy Commissioner (DC) Fawad Soomro briefed him on the security plans.

Soomro told CM Shah that a total of 1,027 police officials were deployed for the main procession while another 643 were posted for other smaller processions.

He further said that three security squads have been deployed for the main procession’s security — one would be positioned ahead of the procession, another within it and the third behind it.

The DC added that the main procession was being monitored via CCTV cameras and 10 medical camps have been set up along its route.

Later, he visited the main procession’s route in Hyderabad and spoke to the media.

The CM expressed satisfaction over the arrangements for the procession and appreciated Hyderabad Mayor Kashif Shoro for it.

The district administration made sure that the mourners did not face any inconvenience and made all necessary arrangements, he said, adding that the Sindh police chief was also overseeing Muharram arrangements across the province.

CM Shah said it was the government’s responsibility to provide security to the mourners.

The main procession in Hyderabad was taken out from Qadamgah Maula Ali and culminated at Karbala Dadan Shah at 5pm after covering a distance of around one kilometre. While the procession was under way, its designated route remained completely sealed, a Dawn.com correspondent in Hyderabad said.

CM Shah also conducted an aerial assessment of the security situation in Karachi while mourning processions were under way.

He also visited the Sindh Police’s Central Command and Control Centre where he was apprised of the security situation by IG Memon and oversaw the movement of processions that were being monitored on multiple screens.

The minister reviewed live footage of various processions, including the ones near Nishtar Park and on Preedy Street and MA Jinnah Road.

Meanwhile, Karachi Mayor Barrister Murtaza Wahab visited Rescue 1122’s command and control centre in Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

Quetta

In Quetta, the main procession departed from the Nasirabad Imambargah, led by Balochistan Shia Conference President Jawad Rafi. It journeyed through the designated and culminated after returning to the Nasirabad Imambargah.

Radio Pakistan reported that another procession set out from Hazara Nichari Imambargah in the morning and would conclude at Alamdar Road after passing through its conventional route.

A total of 36 mourning processions would be carried out by the city’s various Imambargahs while mobile phone services will remain suspended from 6am to 12am, the report said.

The set routes for the processions were blocked for traffic with officials from the police, Frontier Constabulary and other LEAs deployed at various points.

Shops and markets on the processions’ entrance routes were sealed as well after conducting a thorough screening.

The Ashura possessions were monitored via “hidden cameras”, as well as aerially by helicopters.

Talking to the media, Quetta DIG Ghulam Azfar Mehsar said that 4,000 police officials were deployed across the city and four control rooms established while the Pakistan Army were also on standby.

Expressing satisfaction for “all security arrangements, including security”, he said that women police officials were also posted in the processions and outside them.

Noting that there “had always been threat[s]” on the occasion of Youm-i-Ashura, the DIG said the authorities concerned had been working on this matter for the past month.

He added that the police arrested four suspicious individuals a day ago,and the CTD and intelligence agencies were currently investigating the matter.

In an earlier statement, DIG Mehsar said that the suspects had been arrested near McConaghey Road and had been shifted to an unidentified location while forensics of their mobile phones were being carried out.

The DIG stated that the police were conducting raids in various areas to find the enablers of the arrested suspects.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

A total of 12 processions were scheduled today in Peshawar.

The main procession was taken out from Imambargah Agha Syed Ali Shah in Qissa Khawani Bazaar and it culminated in the evening. As it passed through its designated route, several smaller processions joined it.

Routes leading to the procession routes had been sealed off in Peshawar while mobile phone services have been suspended as well as part of security precautions.

Rescue 1122 had set up camps in Jahangirpura, Kohati, Khanum Market, Wadpaga and Gulbahar, Radio Pakistan said. It added that medical technician teams and ambulances are also present during the mourning processions.

A statement issued by the Peshawar Capital City Police quoted Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operations Haroonul Rasheed as saying that the police were “alert and ready to deal with any untoward incident”.

The SSP further said that a total of 13,500 police officials have been deployed across the Walled City of Peshawar while all processions are being monitored via CCTV cameras.

He added that drone cameras, surveillance cameras, police mobile vans and jammers are also being used in the vicinity of the processions for “fool-proof security”.

SSP Rasheed stated that all routes were “continuously being swept” by the Bomb Disposal Unit and sniffer dogs.

Earlier today, the police said that the SSP visited various Imambargahs and the procession routes last night, where he issued special directives to the police and also distributed cash prizes to the officials who performed best.

Meanwhile, in the Dera Ismail Khan district, the main procession, which was taken out from Chah Syed Munawar Imambargah, concluded at Kotli Imam Hussain, APP reported.

The report added that traffic remained suspended on the procession routes while a complete ban was imposed on riding motorcycles on Muharram 9 and 10 in the DI Khan city. Mobile phone services were also suspended today.

APP stated that processions were also taken out in the Kulachi, Paharpur and Prova tehsils of the district.

It further said that checking points were set up at 100 different places, including the entry and exit points to the city, while a BDS team swept the routes before and after the passage of processions.

In the Tank district, processions concluded in four sectors, including Garah Baloch, Tank City, Ranwal and Sector Nourang. Pillion-riding was also banned from Muharram 8-10.

In his message today, KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali said: “Youm-i-Ashura teaches us the lesson that we shall not submit to oppression and remain adhered to truth and patience for a noble cause.”

He urged the Muslim community to “always prepare to abide by the golden principles of Islam and oppose the tyranny for [the] survival of truth”.

In Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s capital, and its surrounding areas, a total of 10 mourning processions were taken out from various imambargahs and joined the main procession, Radio Pakistan stated.

In Gilgit, the main procession departed from Central Imamia Mosque.

Opinion

Editorial

Dangerous law
Updated 17 May, 2024

Dangerous law

It must remember that the same law can be weaponised against it one day, just as Peca was when the PTI took power.
Uncalled for pressure
17 May, 2024

Uncalled for pressure

THE recent press conferences by Senators Faisal Vawda and Talal Chaudhry, where they demanded evidence from judges...
KP tussle
17 May, 2024

KP tussle

THE growing war of words between KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur and Governor Faisal Karim Kundi is affecting...
Dubai properties
Updated 16 May, 2024

Dubai properties

It is hoped that any investigation that is conducted will be fair and that no wrongdoing will be excused.
In good faith
16 May, 2024

In good faith

THE ‘P’ in PTI might as well stand for perplexing. After a constant yo-yoing around holding talks, the PTI has...
CTDs’ shortcomings
16 May, 2024

CTDs’ shortcomings

WHILE threats from terrorist groups need to be countered on the battlefield through military means, long-term ...