Ashura processions taken out across the country amid tight security



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.

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.

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 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.

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