ISLAMABAD, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan has taken extraordinary security measures to check terrorism as the first month of the Islamic calendar started on Friday, local media reported.
The month of 'Muharram' is a sacred month for all Muslims in which fighting is prohibited but the banned extremist groups routinely attack Shiite Muslims when they take out processions to remember the sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed, who was killed in Karbala in 680 A.D..
Interior Minister Rehman Malik had ordered a day-long mobile service suspension and ban on pillion riding in the southern port city of Karachi and the restive southwestern city of Quetta on Friday on intelligence report of terrorist attacks. A court in Karachi had overturned the pillion riding ban but mobile service had been blocked in both cities.
Shiite Muslims start religious gatherings from the first day of the month but the ceremonies reach climax on 'Yami-e-Ashur' the 10th of Muharram when they take out big processions across the country.
Officials say that paramilitary soldiers and police will be deployed to provide security to the Shiite mourners in sensitive areas and the army will also be on standby and called out if required for maintaining peace.
Main groups of Shiite Muslims have demanded the government ensure security for their religious gatherings in view of the recent target killings of Shiites in different parts of Pakistan.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf issued messages on the advent of the first month of the Islamic calendar, calling for unity to frustrate the designs of elements who will try to spread sectarian hatred.
Both of the leaders also instructed the authorities to take foolproof security arrangements to check any terror act.
The Prime Minister recently met religious leaders in Islamabad and sought their help to ensure sectarian harmony during the month of Muharram.
Religious leaders assured the Prime Minister of their full cooperation in maintaining peace and tranquility during the month.