Security arrangements are in place for the processions and the majalis. Further, cellular services in several cities, including Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and other major cities and towns are suspended. In addition to the suspension of cellular services, a ban has also been imposed on pillion riding of motorbikes in several metropolitan cities in the country.

The state needs to be questioned on its policies at the time of national and religious events. The policy on shutting down cellular service needs to be revised. The people in mourning due to the occasion, those who would like to join the Moharram processions, have to choose between what is a holy duty and passion, and their safety and lack of communicative power. The passive policy of network shutdowns is becoming the norm rather than an exception and is the main strategy to curb terrorism. Other methods of investigation are required. One glance at the unfulfilled points of the National Action Program proves the existence of a lazy security apparatus, flying by the seat of its pants. Fully functioning communication systems are essential in emergency situations. It is the criminal and terrorist who can plan around these measures.

The common man who wants to celebrate Eid or Independence day, or mourn during an Ashura procession cannot, and will suffer in the case of a threat to life- whether from terrorism or from the hundreds of daily unpredictable occurrences.

In the Punjab thousands of police officials had been deployed for the security of hundreds of processions and majalis. Two companies of Pakistan Army had been deployed in the Dera Ghazi Khan. The Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) has finalised a traffic plan for religious processions on 8th and 9th Muharram to facilitate motorists. These measures are welcome, and hopefully we can reach a time when so many security measures are unnecessary.

The Ashura processions are a peaceful event and the tragic story of Karbala is one that teaches us compassion, remembrance, responsibility and a love for truth. Was it in rebellion of these values that on the 8th of Moharram, a suicide bomber attacked a Shia Imambargah near Quetta which left 10 people dead and over a dozen wounded? These events are our national and religious heritage.

People flock to shrines and mosques, in an attempt to pay venerate to a past that is globally revered and held sacred. Respect for the occasion of Ashura must be cultivated to the extent where there is no sectarian divide on the issue, and thus less reason for militants to create mischief at the occasion.