The United States Department of State issued a warning to citizens in Karachi on Friday, June 16, regarding the Shi’a community’s annual Youm-e-Ali celebrations, which mark the 21st day of Ramadan and will take place on Saturday, June 17. A large procession will begin at around 13:00 (local time) near Nishtar Park and end at roughly 19:30 at Imam Bargah Hussainiya Iranian in Kharadar, before and during which US consulate personnel movement in Karachi will be restricted. This is a significant event for Shi’a Muslims and the procession and other celebrations have been targeted with violence in the past; the (radical Sunni) terrorist group Islamic State (IS) has made a general call for its sympathizers to perpetrate attacks during Ramadan. The Pakistani Taliban factions Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan as well as IS have perpetrated various attacks in the country over the past few months, primarily in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the Tribal Areas, Peshawar, and Lahore.
Ramadan is a period of reflection and self-restraint and carries great significance within the Muslim calendar. Muslims traditionally observe daytime fasting and are called to practice increased devotion. Roughly 97 percent of Pakistan’s population is Muslim, with the vast majority being Sunni and somewhere between 10 and 20 percent being Shi’a. Generally, this period is accompanied by a significant increase in the terror threat in many countries.
Individuals in Karachi and throughout Pakistan are advised to stay away from large religious gatherings due to the threat of terrorism and the risk of sectarian violence and to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the relevant authorities. Individuals are also advised not to eat, drink, or smoke in public by day during Ramadan.