RAWALPINDI, Nov 22: While a large number of people attended the funeral prayers of those killed in the Wednesday attack on a procession here, the leadership of Shia community has decided to chalk out a more effective security plan for the remaining religious gatherings.

As the criticism on the police grew, the Shia Ulema Council demanded deployment of the army in sensitive areas.

The Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) said it had chalked out its own security plan. “Now it is clear that relying on the police for safety is an exercise in futility,” said Allama Amin Shaheedi, the secretary general of the MWM. “We have decided to mobilise our volunteers and give them enhanced responsibilities for the Muharram security.”

A member of the management committee at Jamia Sadiq Imambargah at G-9/4 added: “We have followed all the precautions and directives as suggested by the police.”

From outside, the imambargah looked encircled by a maze of iron bars and barbed wires. The management committee official acknowledged that last year many people, including women, had rejected a similar security plan for the worship place.

The heightened insecurity has also brought three main rival Shia parties closer. These are: the Shia Ulema Council, which is the reincarnation of the banned Tehrik-i-Jaferia led by Allama Sajid Naqvi; the MWM, mainly the breakaway faction of the old TJP, and its archrival TNFJ led by Allama Moosavi.

The senior leaders of all these three groups have agreed to cooperate on security matters and establish a large contingent of volunteers to keep a vigil during the processions.

In a meeting with Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, an adviser to the chief minister, the religious leaders said the best way to deal with the situation was to remain peaceful and promote sectarian harmony. They said terrorists wanted to pitch the followers of different schools of thought against each other.

The meeting was attended by Commissioner Imdadullah Bosal, DCO Saqib Zafar, CPO Azhar Hameed Khokhar, Allama Pir Syed Izhar Bukhari, Syed Hassan Raza Naqvi, Syed Shahzad Shah, Syed Anwar Shah, Syed Abdul Aziz Shah, Mehmudul Hassan Balakoti, Mazhar Ali, Malik Umar, Maulana Abdul Wahid Farooqi and Syed Qasim Shah.

“We will continue preaching peace and tolerance and this is the best way to combat the nefarious designs of extremists,” Maulana Abdul Farooqi told the meeting.

Raja Ashfaq Sarwar vowed to provide security to the processions in Rawalpindi by involving the military.

He said the list of those killed and injured in the attack was being sent to the chief minister to announce financial assistance for the affected families.

In another development, Imamia Students Ogranisation Rawalpindi criticised a statement by Punjab home minister Rana Sanaullah that the Muharram activities be limited to any boundary area only.

It said the government was trying to find a lame excuse to cover up its failure in providing security to the people.

Meanwhile, people from both the Shia and Sunni communities attended the funeral prayers of the victims at Dhoke Syedan. Four people from the Sunni community also lost their lives while attending the Wednesday night procession.

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