Islamabad: The army was deployed today in Rawalpindi and Multan after at least ten persons were killed in sectarian clashes, prompting authorities to impose a curfew in the Pakistani garrison city.
Curfew was imposed within the limits of 19 police stations of Rawalpindi after Shias participating in a Muharram procession clashed with students from a Sunni seminary yesterday. Nine persons were killed and over 40 injured in the violence.
Though the curfew was briefly relaxed for half an hour between 6:00-6:30 PM, and then again from 9:30 PM to 1 AM, it is expected to come back in force after 1 am tomorrow.
As a precautionary measure, cellphone services in Pakistan`s federal capital will be suspended from 1:00 AM tonight till 2:00 PM tomorrow.
Police and a large number of soldiers patrolled various areas in Rawalpindi today. The situation remained volatile.
This is the first time in years that a curfew has been imposed in the Punjab province and especially in Rawalpindi, which also houses the Army headquarters.
In Multan city of Punjab province, the administration summoned the army today after a clash between two groups left one person dead and two others seriously injured, media reports said.
Following the clash in Nala Wali Muhammad area of Multan, the situation in the city became tense.
Mobile phone services were suspended in Rawalpindi and the measure was expected to remain in force till tomorrow afternoon, officials said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in Colombo, telephoned Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and sought details and updates on the Rawalpindi incident.
Shehbaz said he was monitoring the situation on minute- to-minute basis in consultation with Pakistan Army, intelligence agencies and the Ministry of Interior.
The Prime Minister directed that miscreants responsible for the incident should not be spared and that they must be defeated in their nefarious designs of creating discord in the society, an official statement said.
The Chief Minister also briefed the Prime Minister on the responsible and mature role of media, it added.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan chaired a meeting here to review overall law and order situation in the country with special reference to Rawalpindi incident.
He appealed to the people to demonstrate patience and tolerance and asked them to inform the law enforcement agencies about the miscreants.