“We have asked provinces to take foolproof security steps to protect people’s life and property,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Dawn on Friday.
However, he said, he had not deployed paramilitary forces in any part of the country. “I have so far not ordered the deployment of Rangers but they would be called out in the cities if there is a need,” the minister said.
An interior ministry official said security level had been heightened to ‘red alert’ across the country on Friday, with authorities barring organising Eid prayers in open places.
A circular sent by the ministry to provincial and district governments said there should be “no Eid prayers in open places”.
“The decision to discourage the holding of Eid prayers in the open was made in view of security concerns and against the backdrop of increasing number of suicide attacks,” the official said. It may be mentioned that two years ago, a similar decision taken by the federal government had been ignored in most parts of the country.
The interior ministry said that it would be difficult for police to provide security if congregations were held in open places.
The ministry also urged the authorities concerned to seek assistance of private security agencies for maintaining peace. “Assistance of private security agencies is part of the code under which guards… would be responsible for internal security of mosques and other places of worship. Police will maintain security outside the mosques,” a senior security official said.
The local administration in Islamabad has asked organisers of Eid prayers not to hold prayers in open places. “We have asked them not to arrange Eid prayers in grounds, open places and parks,” said Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Amir Ali Ahmed.
There are four main places in the capital where Eid prayers are offered — Barri Imam shrine, Golra Sharif shrine, Faisal Mosque and Sector G-9.