QUETTA: Five hundred people who wished to travel to Iran for an Ashura pilgrimage were stopped in Quetta on Saturday. Security officials advised the intending pilgrims against moving out of the provincial capital of Balochistan for their own security.
Around 10 buses carrying the 500 pilgrims were all set to depart for the border town of Taftan en route to Iran’s Mirjaveh town and onwards, but security officials stopped the vehicles at the bus terminal. Among the pilgrims was Saeeda Tasneem Zahra, who told The Express Tribune that she was travelling with four of her family members from Karachi and wanted to go to Iran.
“I want to be there before Youm-e-Ashur, but we are not allowed to move forward,” lamented the 40-year-old. “Security officials told us that we would be at risk because they would not be able to provide us security.”
A security official said that keeping in view the earlier attacks on pilgrims, it had been decided that no pilgrim would be allowed to go on pilgrimage without obtaining a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the provincial home department. “If they get an NOC, we shall provide them security and escort them to Taftan.”
Quetta Assistant Commissioner Tariq Mengal said: “We had an agreement with Zaireen that from Muharram 1 to 13 no one will move out of Quetta without an NOC.” He said the pilgrims were being sent back to Karachi due to security concerns.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2015.