By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan government (G-B) has decided to suspend traffic for a day on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) as part of its security plan for Muharram.
The decision will leave G-B disconnected from the rest of the country as KKH is the main highway linking the region to Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
“The highway will be closed for traffic on Ashura (Muharram 10th),” Gilgit Deputy Commissioner Hamza Salick told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
Furthermore, the government has also requested the interior ministry to suspend cellular service in the region on Ashura. “We have forwarded a request for suspension of mobile service on Ashura and hopefully, it will be agreed upon,” Salick said.
Gilgit has been a flashpoint for sectarian tensions in the past, prompting the regional government to resort to some extreme measures.
Entry of firebrand clerics banned
Another measure the G-B government has taken to ensure peace in the region is to impose a ban on the entry of firebrand clerics in G-B.
A notification to this effect has already been issued banning five clerics, including Ahle Sunnat Waljamat (ASWJ) chief Allama Ahmed Ludhianvi, Maulana Masoodur Rahman, Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi and Maulana Asif Usmani.
The government has also banned some Shia clerics affiliated with the Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimmen (MWM) including Allama Raja Nasir Abbas.
“Those violating the notification will be booked under anti-terrorism act,” superintendent of police Rana Mansoor said. He added these steps have been taken to ensure peace in the area.
In addition, a close watch has been kept on suspects, including individuals placed on the fourth schedule. According to officials, they have been asked not to leave the region unless the authorities grant them the necessary permission.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened at all entry points in Chilas, a major town of Diamer district. Passengers entering the region are being subjected to body searches, another official at Chilas told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2016.