Mobile phone services were again partially suspended in major cities across the country on Saturday due to strict security arrangements to safeguard Muharram processions.
Cellular and internet services were partially suspended in parts of Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and other cities beginning today, as authorities finalised arrangements ahead of the processions.
Mobile phone services had also been partially suspended in different parts of the country on Friday.The main procession in Karachi starts from Nishtar Park today and will culminate at Hussainian Iranian imaambargah in Kharadar.
While Muharram is a time of mourning and reflection, in this age of rampant militancy and sectarianism, the month also poses a significant security challenge to the state.
Every year, a few days before the start of Muharram, the state comes alive and swings into action, rounding up suspected hatemongers, hosting meetings of ‘peace committees’ featuring clerics of various persuasions, and taking other steps to ensure the mourning period passes off without incident.
Just a couple of days ago on two suspected militants belonging to the banned sectarian outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi were arrested in Karachi by the Counter-Terrorism Department. Meanwhile, the entry of nine clerics has been banned by the Gilgit-Baltistan administration.
All these steps are par for the course. However, the administration also needs to keep an eye on individuals on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The numerous activities present a logistic challenge to the government regardless, but the threat of terrorist attacks against processions is always an overriding concern.
In the past these attacks have overwhelmed the security setup, fortunately local authorities seem to be sufficiently prepared to deal with the challenge over the last few years – which have been without a major incident.
Infact the planning to protect Muharram processions should be start prior a month not just a couple of days ago. Those who carry out nefarious agendas of terrorism do not plan in days but in months therefore a fool proof plan can be fooled easily.