Muharram Mayhem in Pakistan

Muharram is observed all over the world by the Muslims to mourn the death of Imam Hussain Ali, believed to be the third Imam of the Shia community. He was also considered to be the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad who was killed by the army of the Caliph Yazid in 680 AD at the battle of Karbala.

On this day Shias resort to self flagellation where as Sunnis go on fasting for three days. Month is considered to be the holiest month after Ramzan and one of the four sacred months in the Islamic calendar.

However in Pakistan, every year the event becomes a big security challenge for the establishment with communities engaging in violent incidents due to the change in narrative for the event and wide spread radicalisation. Event is supposed to be the recalling of tragedy of Karbala which is considered to be the battle between the right and wrong. But in Pakistan it is the battle between the minority Shias and majority Sunnis with terrorists terrorising the public. In last five years more than 200 people were killed during the Muharram processions. In this year due to the prevailing situation and the authorities more bothered about organising Kashmir Hour, the numbers of fatalities in Pakistan may increase many fold if precautions not taken in advance.

Pakistan as on today is undergoing a rough time. Be it the ever deteriorating economy, the increasing debt, the political mess, the diplomatic failure or the failed Kashmir policy. Its military and civil leadership, after getting rattled by bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir are behaving like school going children whose toys have been taken away from them. Calling for terror attacks, jihad, atomic strikes and now orchestrating march of civilians across the LOC reflects their desperation. But in this desperation Pakistan is neglecting the history of violence during the Muharram. Even in peaceful times, Muharram congregations and processions have always posed a huge challenge and this year it could be worse.

This year, security for Muharram presents towering challenges because of two main reasons. One reason is the situation created by warmongering after the abrogation of Article 370 and other being the promise by Pakistan to mediate in the talks with Talibans.  Security establishments may be satisfied with the arrangement done to prevent any untoward incident but terror outfits will certainly like to exploit the chinks in the armour of the stretched out security apparatus due to Kashmir problem.

Therefore Pakistan rather than looking towards the LOC must look at its own backyard and take precautions to ensure that historical flashpoints of conflict are carefully monitored so as to prevent an untoward incident. In failing to do so, may have far reaching consequences capable of engulfing the entire nation with sectarian violence and terror incidents? Further the various extremist groups and terror outfits within the country would like to exploit the anti India sentiments to hurt Pakistan itself.

The hapless people of Pakistan have suffered for a long time due to the their Kashmir policy which has become a heavy burden on country’s economy and tax payers. State’s unusual leaning for Kashmir has weakened the internal governance which if not controlled may lead to total collapse and chaos. 

09 Sep 19/Monday                                    Written by Azadazraq