Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has said that since Muharram and local government elections are taking place simultaneously, the intelligence and law enforcement agencies will have to be more vigilant as banned outfits have started re-emerging with new names.
During Muharram, in addition to the Rangers, over 64,000 police personnel would be on security duty in the province.
Pillion-riding would be banned for three days, mobile services would be suspended, and special security measures would be taken for Shikarpur, Khairpur and Shahdadkot while the Rangers would carry out a special operation in coordination with the police and the counterterrorism department against activists of proscribed organisations.
A comprehensive security plan would be worked out for local government elections.
The chief minister gave this approval while presiding over an extraordinary meeting on law and order in the context of Muharram security arrangements right from Muharram 1 to Chehlum. Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan also attended the meeting.
The other participants include Senior Minister for Finance Syed Murad Ali Shah, provincial ministers Sohail Siyal and Syed Nasir Shah, CM adviser on law Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Siddique Memon, Rangers Major DG General Bilal Akbar, additional inspectors general of police A.D. Khwaja, Mushtaq Maher and Sanaullah Abbasi, and heads of intelligence agencies.
The chief minister said that Majalis and processions began on the first of Muharram and continued till Chehlum. Therefore, the security plan must be worked out accordingly. Apart from it, local government election process was also in progress and a security plan for it must also be worked out.
Three-day ban on pillion-riding approved for Karachi
The chief minister keeping in view security threats approved the imposition of a ban on pillion-ridding for Muharram 8, 9 and 10 in Karachi. Women, children and elderly people would be exempted from the ban. He also directed the home department to coordinate with the federal government for the suspension of mobile phone service.
He urged all the intelligence agencies, Rangers and police to be more vigilant over activities of banned outfits emerging under new names. “They must be stopped from participating in election,” he said.
Rangers DG Bilal Akbar said that after going through the Muharram history of the last seven years, he had found and identified some 95 sensitive points in the city where special arrangements in coordination with the police had been planned.
“The Rangers are also conducting a special operation in coordination with the police and the Counter-Terrorism Department against activists of proscribed organisations and this would continue till Chehlum,” he said.
He said that during the ban on pillion-riding special passes would be issued to media people for the coverage of processions and Majalis.
The DG said that surveillance of the procession would be conducted by helicopter. “We would also use surveillance system of Suparco for security reasons,” he said.
Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan said the divisional administration must hold meetings with K-Electric officials for smooth power supply for streetlights. “We cannot afford risk of darkness in the streets, particularly on sensitive days,” he said.
The chief minister directed the chief secretary to coordinate with the commissioner of Karachi for the purpose.
Special assistant to the chief minister on Auqaf and religious affairs Dr Qayoom Soomro said he was holding regular meetings with ulema of different sects so that a code of conduct could be implemented in letter and spirit.
The chief minister said that he had already directed all the commissioners to form district peace committees through their respective deputy commissioners. Principal secretary Bullo said he was in touch with all the DCs in compliance of CM directives and district committees had been formed.
The chief minister directed the chief secretary to ensure the presence of doctors, paramedical staff and availability of medicines in government hospitals. The local government hospitals should also make such arrangements as usual, he said.
The representatives of intelligence agencies briefed the meeting about activities of banned outfits. They said additional security arrangements be made in Shikarpur, Khairpur and Shahdadkot.
AIG Mushtaq Maher said 64,414 police personnel would perform security duties during Muharram. “The deployment of 41,090 policemen would be static, 5,482 would be in pickets, 8,825 mobiles and 9,017 would be reserved,” he said.
Appreciating the Rangers, police and intelligence agencies, the CM said that during the last Muharram they had performed a wonderful job and “I am sure this time your strategy would also produce good results,” he said.
The chief minister urged the Rangers and police to work out a comprehensive security plan for the local government election. “The first phase of the LG election has been started and it would be followed by two other phases. Therefore, we must have a good plan to control law and order,” he said.