Police and security forces were obviously on high alert in
Pakistan's major cities on Friday, the first day of the sensitive
month of Muharram on Islamic calendar and just one day after a
deadly suicide attack in the eastern city of Lahore.
Several police officers were guarding outside the fence on the
Mall Road in front of the High Court, the site of Thursday's
suicide attack in the downtown area that killed about 20, mostly
police officers on duty maintaining order at the gathering of some
judges in a protest.
They were standing meters apart from each other, a manner in
sharp contrast to the many policemen close together at the spot on
Thursday, and were obviously on higher alert to local residents and
"In the past, Lahore was peaceful. Now when the blast happened,
people were shocked," said Mudasir Butt, a local resident, adding
that the last blast in Lahore was two years ago.
Shahzad Ahamed, who lives in Lahore, said Lahore had been "a
very peaceful city, even when riots gripped Karachi in the
aftermath of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination
on Dec. 27."
Pakistani President Musharraf condemned the attack in Lahore on
Thursday, saying the resolve of the country to fight terrorism
would not be affected.
The number of policemen in capital Islamabad on Friday was about
as usual but they obviously stepped up security check procedures,
Xinhua correspondents witnessed.
Police were also seen guarding outside Mushid Shuda, a popular
mosque near the High Court in downtown Lahore that saw thousands of
the public offering their prayers on Friday.
The police, holding rifles, were standing in a line, largely
silent and meters apart from each other, eyeing visitors in a
"Security checks were not that strict," said local resident
Gulzar, "this is because, on one hand, there was a suicide attack
yesterday in Lahore, and, on the other hand, it is the beginning of
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic year. Its first day,
although not much celebrated, begins a period of mourning observed
by most Shiites, with the peak at Ashurah, the 10th day of
Pakistan's parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for
Jan. 8, have been postponed for 40 days until after Muharram.
Caretaker Prime Minister Muhammadmian Soomro has said the
government would take measures and provide all possible assistance
for security forces for ensuring law and order during Muharram.
Azhar Ali Farooqi, a senior police official in Karachi, said
contingents of the local police were ready to tackle any unwonted
(Xinhua News Agency January 12, 2008)