Army to be deployed across Pakistan during Muharram

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Islamabad, Jul 8 (PTI) The Pakistan government on Monday decided to deploy the Army across the country to maintain law and order during Muharram, amidst fear of attacks by militant groups on Shiitie rallies.

Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, began on Monday.

Shiite Muslims take out rallies during the first ten days of the month to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein Ibne Ali, the grandson of the Prophet of Islam.

The Ministry of Interior decided to deploy regular army troops following requests by the provinces.

According to a notification issued by the ministry, the details of troop deployment, which will be enforced indefinitely, will be finalised with the authorities of the provinces concerned, including Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Islamabad.

"The date of de-requisitioning of said deployment will be decided subsequently after mutual consultation among all stakeholders," the notification stated.

According to Islamic traditions, Hussein was killed along with at least 72 family members on the 10th of Muharram in the Karbala area of modern-day Iraq in 680 A.D. by the forces of Muslim ruler Yazid Ibne Muawia, who considered him a threat to his rule.

The Muslims generally observe his martyrdom as a symbol of resistance to tyranny, and the Shiite Muslims take out rallies culminating in huge processions on the 9th and 10th day of the month.

The Sunni Muslims have a historic theological rivalry with the Shiite, and extremist Sunni groups brand them as heretics, and target them through bombings, with Pakistan witnessing numerous such attacks in the past.

The government often deploys regular army troops to help civil law enforcement agencies keep peace during Muharram.

To disrupt communication among the militants, governments in Pakistan undertook other security measures during Muharram, including suspension of internet, cell phone and social media services.

Earlier, the provincial governments, including Punjab, had requested that the federal government suspend social media platforms for one week to curb the spread of hate on the internet.

However, the Ministry of Interior referred the matter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif who is expected to decide on the request. PTI SH PY PY PY