Terrorist attacks on the main Muharram procession in Karachi and the chehlum of the martyrs’ procession in Lahore last year had great caused apprehensions about security in Moharram this year.
On September 1, 2010, simultaneous terrorist attacks on Yaum-e-Ali processions in Lahore and Karachi that killed and injured scores had strengthened these fears.
In view of these precedents, the government had taken extraordinary measures to enhance security in and around the sites of Ashura gatherings in all parts of the country.
The 10th of Moharram commemorates the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) who, along with his family, laid down his life in Karbala while fighting the forces of Yazid for the principles of a republican state as opposed to hereditary succession.
Large processions and majalis (gatherings) are held by Shia Muslims to mourn the tragic incident.
Recent terrorist attacks have shown that gatherings of all kinds are vulnerable as terrorists are not keen to observe any war ethics. By their very nature, the Moharram processions make easy targets, and law enforcement agencies deserve credit for making arrangements to avoid any major untoward incident this Moharram.
For once, the government’s ‘foolproof’ security proved to be indeed almost foolproof, with the Ashura of Moharram having passed without any serious incident of terrorism. It was not that terrorists did not plan or attempt to disrupt the Moharram proceedings in various parts of the country.
At Peshawar’s Chowk Yadgar, a terrorist threw a hand grenade on a procession, which resulted in the death of a child and injuries to 25 mourners.
In Quetta, the Frontier Corps (FC) seized a large quantity of arms and ammunition and suicide jackets from the border area of Chaman Township and arrested three suspects when they launched a search operation in the area on a tip off. I
f not captured in time, these explosive materials may have been used to create chaos at Ashura gatherings in Quetta.
Thankfully, we have been saved the kind of trauma unleashed by the terrorists last year. Moharram is not yet over though. It is hoped that stringent security arrangements as well as intelligence work would keep upcoming gatherings safe and peaceful.