Sindh govt issues security alert amid US-Iran tensions


KARACHI: The Sindh Home Department on Saturday issued a threat alert amid heightened tensions between United States (US) and Iran, following the assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

In a letter titled, “Enhancement of Security of American and Iranian Establishment/Installations” in the province, the Home Department requested the Director General Sindh Rangers, Inspector General Sindh and all the commissioners to increase the security citing tense situation in the region.

“I am directed to … request for enhanced security arrangements for the Iranian and US Nationals and establishments in the current security scenario in order to avoid any untoward incident,” read the letter issued by the additional secretary.

Rally against killing of Iranian general in Karachi

A rally will be taken out from Karachi Press Club to the US Consulate by religious organisations against the US strike in Baghdad.

A traffic plan for the metropolis has been issued keeping in mind the rally.

According to the traffic police, roads leading up the Red Zone have been closed for traffic. Moulvi Tameezuddin Khan Road, Mai Kolachi Road, Aiwan-e-Saddar Road, Dr Ziauddin Road and Khajoor Chowk have been closed for traffic.

Traffic police has advised commuters to use II Chundrigar Road if travelling from Tower to Boat Basin and PIDC to Tower.

Those commuting from Mai Kolachi to MT Khan Road should take the Boat Basin via KPT Underpass.

Those travelling towards Shaheen Complex from Aiwan-e-Saddar from Metropole have been advised to take the Fawara Chowk and MR Kiani Road.

Those who want to travel from Shahrah-e-Faisal, Metropole towards PIDC have been advised to take the Fawara Chowk via MR Kiani Road or left side of Abdullah Haroon Road, Hoshing Chowk to reach their destination.

Those who want to go towards Shaheen Complex from Clifton, Lily Bridge, PIDC should use right side of the Ziauddin traffic signal.

Those who want to go from Shahrah-e-Faisal, Metropole towards PIDC should travel on right side of Fawara Chowk via MR Kiani Road or left side of Abdullah Haroon Road, Hoshing Chowk to reach their destination.

While those who want to travel from II Chundrigar towards PIDC or Aiwan-e-Saddar should use the Fawara Chowk, MR Kianai Road and Avari traffic signal.

Travel alert

On Friday, the US Embassy in Islamabad issued a countrywide security alert, restricting travel by US government employees and asked them to postpone non-essential official movements in the wake of a possible reaction of the assassination of Soleimani.

“Given possible reactions to recent events in Iraq, the US Embassy has restricted travel by US government employees. The US government personnel in Pakistan are required to postpone non-essential official movements and most personal movements,” the alert read.

The US Embassy also urged US citizens in Pakistan to monitor their surroundings for possible demonstrations and suspicious activity. They were advised to avoid crowds, keep a low profile and be aware of their surroundings.

Trump vows to hit 52 targets if Iran retaliates

President Donald Trump warned Saturday that the US was targeting 52 sites in Iran and will hit them “very fast and very hard” if the Islamic republic attacked American personnel or assets.

In a series of Tweets, Trump said 52 represents the number of Americans held hostage at the US embassy in Tehran for more than a year starting in late 1979.

Trump said some of these sites are “at a very high level and important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats.”

‘Will retaliate in right place and time’

The US strike on Friday killed a total of five Iranian Revolutionary Guards and five members of Iraq’s Hashed. Among the dead was Hashed’s deputy head Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a top adviser and personal friend to Soleimani.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised “severe revenge” for Soleimani’s death and Tehran named Soleimani´s deputy, Esmail Qaani, to succeed him.

Tehran has slammed the strike as an “act of war” and Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said it could bring “devastating” violence to Iraq.

World powers quickly called for de-escalation.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mocked as “foolish” a diplomatic effort by US, which he said had sent a letter to Iranian officials through a Swiss envoy since Tehran and Washington have not had direct diplomatic ties for decades.