To the massive relief of the authorities and the citizens of the country, this year’s commemoration of Ashura passed without any untoward event. With the exception of the terrible gun attack on a Shia mosque in Afghanistan, Ashura passed without any violence the world over – a rarity.

Compare this to the Muharrams of previous years, all of which were replete with attacks of various kinds across the nation. Only last year, a bomb targeted a Muharram procession near Shershah Haveli in Jacobabad’s Lashari Mohalla, killing at least 20 people and injuring many others. In Quetta during the same period a suicide bomber targeted an imambaragah, killing 10 people including 6 children. The 2009 attack on a major procession in Karachi was one of the worst of its kind, leading to the death of 63 people. The following incidents of arson and rioting damaged over 3,000 shops and bought the city to a standstill. Interspersed among these bombings has always been a campaign of the targeted killings of Shia professionals, intimidation of Shia communities and an outpouring of hate speech.

This year’s relative calm may turn out to be just a coincidence or a fluke, but it would be wrong to discredit the efforts of the government in this regard. Heavy police contingents were posted to all sensitive spots and the security establishment put on high alert. With the military and the government under lot of pressure on the international front, containing the attacks by sectarian outfits was a top priority - not least because the establishment has often been accused by India of sponsoring these outfits.

Be it a combination of the effects of the military operations and the heavy security contingents, or a general lull in sectarian activities, this year’s peaceful Ashura has allowed the public to display tolerance and appreciate diversity for a change. Without violence, loss of loved ones and the rage that follows, the two major sects of Islam can demonstrably co-exist.