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Pakistan: Increased Security in Muharram

Shia Rights Watch expresses gratitude for increased security in Pakistan in deterrence against anti-Shiism on the occasion of Ashura, the 10th of Muharram. Shia Rights Watch recognizes the new measures as a response to protests by Shia Muslims in Pakistan and expresses appreciation on behalf of the international Shia community. 

Across Pakistan, authorities report increased health and security services in areas dense in Shia population, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Islamabad, and Nawabshah. Moreover, authorities have warned against anti-Shia propaganda and hate-inciting publications. 

The Sindh government declared 9th and 10th September (Monday and Tuesday) as public holidays on the occasion of Ashura. More than 69,545 police personnel have been added to provide security for mourners. 

In Karachi, 17,558 officers were enlisted. Moreover, forces will reorganize traffic to reduce congestion.  Jinnah Road was sealed with containers and other barriers and would remain unavailable for routine traffic on 9th and 10th Muharram. Roads joining Saddar Regal Chowk, corridor-3 to Saddar Dawa Khana were also sealed for traffic. The police sealed shops and blocked roads with containers. 

Non-Muharram related congregation and pillion-riding (Motorcycle passengers) were prohibited until after the 10th of Muharram. Such prohibitions were aimed at educing footstep traffic and reducing the feasibility of attacks in the hands of individual perpetrators. In previous years, assailants, both bombers and shooters, fled the scene of attacks by pillion-riding. 

In Hyderabad,  218 mourning processions were declared sensitive and 4,000 policemen were deployed for security on the tenth of Muharram in addition to the Rangers. A unit of Pakistans Army was also placed on standby position. 

In Peshawar, 12,000 policemen were deployed under a comprehensive security plan. Closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) were installed in a number of places to monitor suspicious activity. 

In the Sialkot district alone, 1,258 gatherings were anticipated and planned for. 

Sindh government has confirmed that mobile service was suspended in 245 areas in Karachi. Cellular signals were limited in”flashpoints” and where major processions and gatherings are held.

On rare occurrence of medical emergencies, six operation theatres, 16 ambulances, and 422 medical personnel were placed on high alert in Lady Reading Hospital. 

In the Pakistani province of Punjab, 3,000 security personnel were deployed in Rawalpindi to ensure the safety of the processions.

Shia Rights Watch expresses gratitude for the protection of Shia Muslims in their religious expression. Moreover, the organization notes that the new measures not only protect Shia Muslims, it prevents violence that leads to loss of life and damage to property of non-Shia individuals. The aforementioned increases in security measures were reported by state officials and news personnel. Shia Rights Watch invites Shia communities to retrospectively evaluate these measures and encourages feedback to local authorities in the aims of developing year-round security for the Shia of Pakistan. 

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