Wearing black bands on their arms, hundreds gathered at the central Imambargah in Sector G-6 on Friday to protest the sectarian killings of 16 passengers in Kohistan.
The protesters, supporters and activists of Majlis-i-Wahadatul Muslimeen (MWM), held banners displaying slogans demanding “end to killing of Shia at the hands of terrorists”, “down with Saudi supported madrassas”, “down with Salafi establishment”, “down with America, Israel” and “Down with CIA, Mossad”, rallied to China Chowk in F-6 to mark their protest.
Traffic on main Jinnah Avanue remained suspended for over an hour, while commuters were redirected to alternate routes by the Islamabad Traffic Police to avoid the protest.
They demanded that the government provide security to Shia passengers on Karakoram Highway (KKH) and relocate Rangers from Gilgit to KKH.
The activists called for Rs5 million as compensation for families of each victim, besides offering public sector jobs to them.
The Shia clerics also demanded reopening of Kargil-Ladakh Road and a C-130 service for Shia residents of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Speaking on the occasion, MWM General Secretary Allama Amin Shaheedi said they could not be threatened by targeted attacks, as they have been taught to stand tall against oppression and evil forces.
“Several people have been slaughtered in Parachinar and scores of innocent lives, including those of women and children, have been taken by militants of banned outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan,” he said.
Addressing the protesters, Allama Asghar Askari said there are a handful of institutions that are supporting terrorists, who would otherwise run for their lives if these institutions stopped their support.
He termed the carnage as an attempt by foreign powers to disrupt cordial relations between Pakistan and Iran.
The protesters dispersed peacefully before Maghrib prayers, however, they vowed to return if the government failed to fulfil their demands.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.