City at high risk again as Muharram approaches

City at high risk again as Muharram approaches

* 45,000 majlises, 20,000 processions need protection
* Interior Ministry warns LJ may snatch ambulances
* Many clerics still on ‘hit lists’

By Faraz Khan

KARACHI: Law enforcement agencies have been put on high alert ahead of Muharram when according to official statistics, around 45,000 majlises and over 20,000 processions will be organized within the first ten days.

According to sources, the federal interior ministry issued a circular to all provinces a few weeks back, stating that the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) has formed new sub groups that might be involved in snatching vehicles, including ambulances. “These militants might be men aged between 18 and 20.”

Speaking to Daily Times, Sindh Home Secretary Brigadier (retd) Ghulam Mohammad Mohtaram said that under the current circumstances, any terrorist activity could happen any time. “The army has already been deployed in Sindh, especially in Karachi, and according to the government’s plan, the army contingent will remain deployed across Sindh until the elections. Actually, all these terrorists and banned organizations have links with Baitullah Mehsud, Taliban and Al-Qaeda.”

Clerics are believed to be especially at risk. They are Allama Abbas Kumaili, Hassan Zafar Naqvi, Talib Jauhari, Allama Furqan Haider Abidi, Allama Aftab Haider Jaffery, Maulana Mirza Yousuf, Maulana Qamber Abbas, Maulana Nadir Abbas, Maulana Jaffer Subhani, Maulana Aun Naqvi among others. The Ahl-e-Sunnat clerics are: Allama Shah Turabul Haq Qadri, Hakeem Maulana Asghar Dars, Hakeem Maulana Akbar Dars, Hamza Ali Qadri, Kaukab Noorani, and some Sunni Tehrik (ST) members such as Sarwat Ejaz Qadri and Shahid Ghouri.

CCPO Azhar Ali Farooqui said the police itself was wondering how they will manage a safe and secure Muharram and election. “Some clerics are on the hit lists of terrorists but I cannot disclose their names. We will provide maximum security to them.” A meeting with the clerics of all parties was held at his office Wednesday, where Caretaker Home Minister Brig (retd) Akhtar Zamin and Home Secretary Ghulam Mohammad Mohtaram were also present. Another is scheduled for Friday (today) with the Sindh governor, and another Saturday at his office.

“I am not satisfied with the government,” said Allama Abbas Kumaili, president of the Jafferia Alliance. “Government, especially the LEAs, would not completely concentrate on security for Muharram because they would be preoccupied with the upcoming elections.” He said that if the government wanted to delay elections, they should fix a date after the 40 days of ‘sog’ (mourning), because of the looming threat of target killing and rioting in the city. “Mostly Shia clerics, including me, are on the hit lists of terrorists. It is not necessary that they will target only clerics and others people and property, they could target a Muharram procession.”

ST leader Sarwat Ejaz Qadri said that if the government wanted to maintain peace in the city, it should form a trust comprising leaders from all parties. “It is disappointing that a high-level meeting was held at the Central Police Office where all clerics were invited, but nobody thought of inviting us. ST leaders were targeted but we didn’t react to it, even after 18 months.”

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?p…4-1-2008_pg12_4