In addition to the ban on the inter-provincial movement of religious leaders, 190 Ulemas and Zakirs are also banned from Rawalpindi during Muharram.

This was confirmed by Regional Police Officer (RPO) Mohammad Wisal Fakhar Sultan Raja. 91 of those banned are from Attock, 18 from Jhelum and 45 from Chakwal.

Aprroximately 77 of the clerics are of the Shia Muslim sect, 95 of them are followers of the Dobandi school of thought and 18 are proponents of the Barelvi school of thought.

The government has also taken the action of keeping tabs on organizers of Majalis in which any potential Ulema or Zakir would be invited.

The RPO added that the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism act 1997 is to being updated and individuals on the watch list will be under the constant surveillance of the police and other security officials.

725 processions and 3,800 Majalis have been categorized under three different levels of sensitivity; ranging from “A” highly sensitive, “B” less sensitive and “C” low sensitive.

Imambargah Qasr-i-Shabbir at Dhoke Syedan is placed under the C category. One can recall the incident there on November 2012 which saw the killing of 15 and the injury of 35 others.

Regarding Muharram, the police have stressed that there is no security threat but caution will be taken to make sure that peace prevails during the month.

He also stated that separate security plans have been made for every procession for the first time and a total of 15,000 security personnel which includes Police, Punjab Constabulary, the Elite Force and the Traffic Police will be on duty during Muharram processions.

When asked about intelligence a report regarding the presence of Islamic State loyalists in Attock, the RPO’s response was that the volatility of the situation in Attock is recognized and as a result, extensive search operations are currently underway and those placed on the watchlist are under surveillance.

The RPO pointed out that physical searches of individuals participating in the Muharram processions and Majalis are preferable to using scanners or walk-through gates. He also issued a reminder that the display of arms is banned and anyone caught infringing this rule will be held liable under the National Action Plan.

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