The occasion of Ashura is always a testing time for the country. The numerous activities present a logistic challenge to the government regardless, but the threat of terrorist attacks against processions is always an overriding concern. In the past these attacks have overwhelmed the security setup, fortunately local authorities seem to be sufficiently prepared to deal with the challenge over the last few years – which have been without a major incident,

In preparation of the Ashura, the local government and police have taken several measures – many of which will be partially restrictive to citizens in these two days – but are necessary to ensure peace.

Several key procession routes have been closed to the public. It has also been ensured that no one stands on even rooftops of commercial buildings and residential buildings to keep the sanctity of the procession intact and no one disturbs the process. More than 6000 armed policeman have been appointed to guard main procession routes. These include sniper squads as well. All the major hospitals have been directed to make special arrangements for the day, so that no individual is unattended to. Pillion riding has been banned. Local bodies have been alerted and asked to play a productive role to ensure that religious harmony prevails. The police force will make sure that all the CCTV cameras, light systems, generators and scanners are working properly.

While the efforts of the government should be commended, any negligence in the matter cannot be tolerated. Extremist groups have made the Shia minority of the country a target, any oversight could prove fatal.

At the same time, while the government ensures the following of the security plans, the public must also play their part and compromise. Whatever inconvenience that they have to face, they must realise that as part of the country, we should cooperate with our fellow citizens and accommodate them as much as possible. If mobile signals have to be banned and roads are closed, remember that safety of all citizens takes precedence.

Let us all hope for a peaceful Ashura.