KARACHI -- Pakistani authorities are taking special measures to ensure the safety of citizens before and during Eid celebrations across the country.
Eid ul Adha will begin September 13 in Pakistan. The government has announced a three-day public holiday break.
Strict security measures
Security arrangements are in place to avert any kind of subversive act during Eid festivities, provincial police authorities say.
In Sindh, Inspector General of Police Allah Dino Khawaja chaired a meeting September 4 to assess the security situation and devise a plan to protect citizens during the holidays. All divisional and senior police officials in the province attended the meeting via video conference.
Police officials received orders to remain vigilant and to strictly implement the security plan, Khawaja said.
"All key officers have been tasked with ensuring security for Eid prayers in their jurisdictions," he told Pakistan Forward.
Authorities in Balochistan also devised a comprehensive security plan, including the special deployment of security forces to guard mosques and Eid prayer places, said Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti.
"The security of highways, markets, shopping centres and other places also will be beefed up ahead of Eid," Bugti told Pakistan Forward.
Because of the on-going crackdown on militancy across the country, militant groups are turning their attention to soft targets, said Sadiq Khan, a Karachi-based security analyst.
"During religious and important festivals, militants want to carry out attacks to panic the residents," Khan told Pakistan Forward.
However, the authorities' consistent efforts to protect citizens have not allowed militant groups to carry out attacks, he said.
The last major attempt was August 9, 2013, on the eve of Eid ul Fitr, when security guards in Islamabad foiled an attack by killing a would-be suicide bomber in a mosque.
Code of conduct for hide collections
Moreover, Pakistani authorities are taking measures to safeguard against militant groups posing as charities and to prevent such groups from collecting cow hides for profits.
Hide collection is a lucrative business worth millions of rupees per year, and some members of political parties, religious groups and banned militant groups compete to fetch the maximum number of hides.
Police have orders to take legal action against groups that collect hides without permission.
The Punjab government on September 9 imposed a ban on 69 proscribed organisations from collecting hides and sent a list of such groups to district administrations.
Only charity organisations and those who have signed the relevant code of conduct have permission to collect hides, Muhammad Waqas, an official at Punjab's Home Department, told Pakistan Forward
In addition, the province banned the use of loud-speakers, banners and posters and the construction of camps for charity and hide collection.
The code of conduct also prohibits bearing arms, ammunition and batons for the three Eid days.
Cracking down on phony charities
Authorities in Sindh Province imposed similar restrictions.
Sindh's Home Ministry September 1 issued a code of conduct, according to which all political and charity groups interested in collecting hides will need to get authorisation from the relevant authorities.
Inspector General Khawaja directed district police chiefs to enforce the code of conduct.
A previous government ban enjoining phony charities from collecting animal hides on Eid ul Adha merely led the banned organisations to operate under different names.
"The phony charity foundations serving militant causes create problems for law enforcement agencies and also deceive Muslims who are donating those hides," said Khan, the security researcher.
Strict legal action against those who violate the code of conduct for collecting hides has helped genuine charities receive more hides than before, Shayaq Ali, a Lahore-based researcher working in philanthropy, said.
"We haven't seen many [illicit] banners and posters appealing for hides in Lahore," he told Pakistan Forward.